UAE: New visa announcements lead to uptick in student enrolments

Sweeping reforms to Emirates' entry and residency scheme make it easier for people to come to Dubai and make it a long-standing base for themselves


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 30 May 2022, 5:45 PM

Last updated: Mon 30 May 2022, 10:35 PM

UAE schools and universities have observed an uptick in new student enrolments for the upcoming academic year after the new visa announcements, heralding the country as an educational hub.

Educationists say that the new visas add to the Emirates’ appeal and have injected the much-needed confidence among people to consider Dubai an ideal place to live and work in.

Zafar Raja, Chief Operating Officer, GEMS Education, underlines, “As a school group, we welcome the UAE government’s updates to the visa laws and the benefits these offer to families choosing to make the UAE their home for the long-term. Overall, we see a significant year-on-year rise in enrolments across our schools.

"This growth reflects increased demand for high-quality education among families as well as the enduring attractiveness of the UAE as a place to live, work and raise a family. We believe this trend is set to continue, in no small part due to these new regulations that remove barriers and make it easier to enter and stay in the UAE, including for young people, as they increasingly choose to study and establish their future careers in the Emirates.”

The UAE Cabinet in April 2022 have announced the largest set of reforms and updates to its entry and residency schemes. The new system covers entry visas, new residency options and an expanded Golden Visas (long-term residency) scheme.

Additionally, new visa rules now allow parents to sponsor their sons till they are 25 as opposed to the previous age limit of 18. This effectively means male children can continue living in the UAE even after they finish school and university.

Ashwin Assomull, Head of LEK Consulting’s Global Education Practice, says, “There is a lot of commentary on the impact of Golden and Green visas on immigration to Dubai from other parts of the world. That is part of the driver making it easier for people to come to Dubai and make it a long-standing base for themselves. What is going to really enrolment is the fact that we have a vibrant K12 sector. KHDA has done a great job of building with the private sector operators and investors. There is a wide range of curricula, price points and offerings available in Dubai.

Assomull explains that there are several other factors for people to move to Dubai and the UAE and make it their base.

“The way Dubai managed Covid-19 is a success story. The way Covid-19 was handled in India has also led to many Indian residents leaving the country. From Europe, we’ll see a lot of people moving in as taxes increase there. Dubai has always been a safe haven offering a lot of leisure activities. These are all the factors leading to increased enrollments in the Emirate.”

Meanwhile, universities in Dubai and other emirates also underline that they are noticing an uptick in student enrollment.

Dyllan Hancott, Chief Advancement Officer, Canadian University Dubai (CUD), opined, “We are experiencing a period of exciting growth and development as an institution. In part, we believe that the new visa rules have helped bring awareness to the ease and benefits of an education in the UAE. The new visa rules have made high-quality local education available to a global audience.”

He adds, “we are experiencing a significant increase in the number of leads and enrolments during this period. Due in part to these visa changes and the new programs, facilities, accreditations, partnerships and more at Canadian University Dubai, we have experienced over a 100 per cent improvement in the number of current enrolments.”


Educationists highlight more students are likely to come into the UAE from Middle East and North Africa (MENA), South Asia and Europe later this year.

Mohammed Hettini, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, American University of Ras Al Khaimah said, “In light of the new visa rules, we anticipate an increase in the prospective students from the MENA region, CIS and South Asian countries that would most likely reflect in our future student enrolment intakes.”

He adds, “We believe that more outstanding and talented international students will be encouraged to enroll in Higher Education Institutions in the UAE due to the new types of visas. The UAE is becoming a popular destination for international students due to the high level of safety, innovation of new programs and quality of education offered in the UAE. However, the new rules, along with the introduction of Golden visas, will facilitate new opportunities, such as granting residence visas to the family members of the Golden visa holders. This may boost student enrollments in post-graduate programs as well.”

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