Raising the quality bar of education

Filed on May 19, 2020
Trust and transparency between the education facility and student is vital.

Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) plays a critical role in regulating the higher education landscape in Dubai

Attending a higher education institution for a period of three to four years is a commitment that involves a relationship of trust and transparency between the education facility and students. Around the globe, there are many instances where an establishment is revealed to be not quite as an enrolled student expected - perhaps it may show discrepancies, not be up to mark in terms of education quality as promoted, faculty may not provide the guidance required, the university may face an uncertain future due to poor financing, or even turn out to be a fraud. 

These factors can harbour a strong effect on a students' investment in the future, leaving them at a loss. The UAE, with its vision to establish a sustainable and developmental environment for learners, has put in place an authoritative body in each emirate that exclusively focuses and caters to the needs of the education sector.

Among these is the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which plays a critical role in regulating the higher education landscape in Dubai. Keeping stringent legislations in place, KHDA is the key figure for any organisation looking to establish and operate an institution in the city.

Regardless of the conglomerate, each international university is given the choice to function under the University Quality Assurance International Board (UQAIB) quality assurance scheme or be licensed and accredited by the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA), both of which involves an intensive set of standards that they must surpass in order to qualify.

Ensuring quality across Dubai's free zones
Dubai has set specific processes in order to ensure institutions provide quality education to students. There are two ways in which quality in higher education is assured. Institutions in the Free Zones are given academic authorisation by KHDA through its Quality Assurance scheme; or they can apply to the federal Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research for accreditation through the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA).

KHDA adds convenience for students looking for quality education outlets by listing approved programmes and intuitions on its website, which is available to the general public, and further prevents advertisements and recruitment of any sort prior to approvals.

KHDA is also the key body that certifies academic qualifications, ensuring that graduated students have attested degrees fit for employment and other purposes across the emirate.

KHDA guidelines to selecting the right university

Focus on the programmes offered: While some programmes share similar names, they may not offer the same specialisations or set of courses. Look into the variety offered in each university and take note of the entry requirements to prepare in advance.

Career prospects: Find out which programme best complements your future goals. Speaking to alumni help understand the courses you may need to take to pursue a certain career. Find out the internship opportunities and career guidance services offered by the university.

Check out the facilities: Life isn't just about studying; we all need a bit of recreational activities to add colour to our student lives. Explore the university's extra-curricular offerings and areas, such as lecture halls, library, labs, sports and hobby areas.

Campus life: In case you require accommodation, request to visit the campus and its dorms to have a better understanding of how life would be in the zone. Depending on that, you may choose to either stay on campus for a shorter commute, or opt for an external living space.

Higher education - Dubai focus

There are currently 52 institutions in Dubai that offer higher education programmes in the city, with many offering a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programmes, and few offering a specialised programmes.

Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) and Knowledge Village (KV) are purpose-built zones in Dubai that provide facilities and infrastructure for higher education. They have attracted institutions from all around the world to provide high-quality international degrees. Other purpose-built areas that include higher education institutions are Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Dubai Healthcare City, and Dubai Silicon Oasis.

To date, there are 432 academic programmes available in Dubai, with the 227 of these being Bachelor's degrees and a further 141 programmes are at Master's level. The programmes cover a wide range of fields of study. Around 39 per cent falls under the field of business, while the rest offer courses in information technology, engineering, law, media and design, education, social studies, Islamic studies, health and medicine, and natural and physical sciences.

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