Leader in British education for two centuries

On its bicentennial anniversary, the world-class university is only honing its programmes further

By Prof Ammar Kaka

Published: Wed 28 Jul 2021, 12:00 AM

As Heriot-Watt University celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, how do you envision the future of education in the UAE?

Since our beginnings in 1821 as the world’s first mechanics institute in the heart of Edinburgh, we are now a globally connected university with five campuses in the UK, Dubai and Malaysia two centuries later.

Our passion for research and world-class education inspired us to expand our presence beyond the UK and we set foot in the UAE in 2005 to become the first British university in Dubai International Academic City. Today, we proudly serve around 4,000 students from all around the world at our Dubai campus.

As a leading higher education institution (HEI) in the UAE, we remain invested and committed to elevating Dubai’s reputation as an attractive global study destination. Our move to a brand-new campus at Dubai Knowledge Park, earlier this year, is a testament to this commitment and our desire to fulfil the demands of those seeking high-quality British education in the UAE.

What new programmes are being introduced this year? How does Heriot-Watt ensure that students are prepared for future industry trends and market demands?

We have seen a rise in demand for programmes in artificial intelligence, data science, and robotics that prepare students for jobs of the future. Additionally, this September, we are commencing new programmes such as the MSc Global Sustainability Engineering, BA (Hons) Fashion Branding and Promotion, and BA (Hons) Communication Design, in response to industry demand and global trends.

Our highly-acclaimed degree programmes provide students with an understanding of contemporary developments, emerging trends, and real-world challenges, both inside and outside the classroom. We work closely with many industry partners to offer our students an opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge and to gain practical insight — making them ready for employment upon graduation.

Why should students consider Heriot-Watt University? How does it stand out from other HEIs in the UAE?

As a globally connected university, our teaching standards and learning outcomes remain the same, regardless of where students are based, and they still graduate with the same prestigious Heriot-Watt University degree qualification.

We have been consistently ranked as a top provider of higher education on several indicators, ranging from teaching excellence and research performance to student satisfaction and graduate employability. The KHDA Higher Education Classification (in partnership with QS) has awarded our campus in Dubai a five-star rating consecutively in 2019 and 2020.

A unique blend of career-focused programmes, teaching excellence, research-active faculty, strong global presence, extensive industry links, rich heritage, community engagement, and diverse communities is what sets us apart from the others in the UAE, and makes our students and graduates future-ready.

Are you going to offer classes on campus in September 2021?

Since September 2020, our global university response to the pandemic has been the development and delivery of a flexible ‘Responsive Blended Learning (RBL)’ model. This combines opportunities for on-campus study, especially for practical work in laboratories and studios, with online delivery of live and recorded learning materials and live face-to-face interaction with tutors.

Given the rapid roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines in the UAE and as we look forward to the new term, we anticipate that there will be an increase in on-campus face-to-face engagement with social distancing, mask-wearing, and similar precautions in place. However, some elements of teaching will continue to be delivered online.

All of this will, of course, reflect national guidance issued here in the UAE, as well as the detailed protocols issued by the KHDA. Whilst we will deliver classes on campus, we remain committed to supporting those students who won’t be able to physically attend classes on campus and offering greater and more flexible support to such students.

What scholarships and discounts are being offered this year?

In celebration of our 200th anniversary, we are offering the ‘Bicentennial Award’ which is a discount of Dh8,000 to any student (foundation, undergraduate or postgraduate) applying and paying their tuition fee deposit by July 31 for the September 2021 intake.

For more details of other scholarships and discounts, please visit www.hw.ac.uk/dubai

Matthew Smith, Associate Head of the School of Energy, Geoscience,, Infrastructure and Society

Heriot-Watt prides itself on its strong industry links and engages with businesses and professional bodies regularly to keep all degree programmes relevant and to produce graduates who are prepared for the workplace. The programmes are designed to enable students to gain an insight into a wide range of industry sectors through project work and course choices to specialise in a sector they are passionate about.

The curriculum is set up to support students to learn experientially in workshops and labs, and collaboratively with industry partners. Moreover, sustainable development is strongly embedded in many of Heriot-Watt’s degree programmes, which means graduates are able to respond dynamically and deliver innovative solutions for meeting the needs and challenges of an increasingly complex world.

Prof Ammar Kaka, Provost and Vice Principal, Heriot-Watt University Dubai

Ann Elezabeth Johny, Mechanical Engineer at Zutari, BEng (Hons) Architectural Engineering, 2016, MSc Renewable Energy Engineering, 2020

Architectural Engineering at Heriot-Watt is geared towards providing students a holistic view of all aspects related to building services. With robust course content and strong links to the industry,

I was able to identify my interest in the mechanical design of buildings. The faculty encouraged independent thinking whereby

I was taught to critique established norms and rationale behind design basics. This was further strengthened by the Master’s programme. The university continually improves itself and encourages practical learning. Feedback from the students and industry panel is always executed, which uniquely positions them to shape course content to suit the current market.

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