UAE Higher Education Prospects ‘Bright’ as Revenues Reach One Billion Dollars

505946The prospects for the higher education sector in the UAE is bright, experts speaking at the forthcoming IPSEF Higher Education Forum said.

UAE-based universities have grown consistently in enrolments and revenues at a robust compound annual growth rate of 8-10 percent. The overall student base across local and international university campuses in UAE is estimated to be 162,000, with Dubai hosting around 60,000 students, of which 20 percent are graduate students and 80 percent are in undergraduate level programs.

The current overall revenue base for the higher education market in the UAE is estimated to be over $1bn, and with the sector expected to witness the entry of new players, the market will only increase in value in the next few years.

The data was revealed by Higher Education, UAE whose co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Ajay Shukla will be heading a panel in IPSEF Higher Education Forum on Transnational Higher Education – Opportunities and Challenges. He will be joined by Cathy Gilbert, Director of External Relations, University of Birmingham; Tariq Shaikh Managing Director, R J Fleming and Partner at RHT Partners; and Jitin Sethi, Senior Vice President, Parthenon-EY.

Taking place on 4-5 October 2017 at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel the IPSEF Higher Education Forum builds upon the successful series of school conferences from the IPSEF stable of high-level business events for the international education community.

This HE-focused conference will address four key stakeholder groups involved in the higher education sector, about opportunities for expansion in the Middle East and North Africa, including colleges and universities who are looking to set-up branches or a new campus in the region, operators of existing higher education institutions, regulators as well as the supplier community that provides products, services and solutions for the higher education sector.

“The region has seen a tremendous growth in the higher education sector, driven by the increase of enrollment in both state colleges and universities as well as private institutions including branch campuses of many well-established entities from abroad that are expected to fill in a growing demand. We believe this new stream will be a suitable venue for sharing best practices and new insights on how the various stakeholder groups can take advantage of the opportunities and mitigate the risks,” said Mark Roelofsen, co-founder, IPSEF.

The UAE is home to one of the largest concentrations of university campuses and programs in the world. Higher Education in the Emirates reflects the population diversity (85 percent expatriates) with campuses from UK, USA, Australia, France, Russia, India and other countries. UAE has also created sector specific free-zones infrastructure including Masdar City, Dubai International Academic City, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai Healthcare City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai World Central (transport and logistics), Dubai Design District (D3) that provide a pathway to employability and industry exposure.

Robust local market and access to the broader region with potential to draw students from GCC and MENASA regions make it an attractive hub for student diversity. The key geographies are UAE, Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan and more recently North Africa and Eastern Europe/CIS.

“Due to clear, consistent and responsive regulations governing setting up of branch campuses or new universities, liberal student/faculty visas, and incubation infrastructure support the UAE market offers a unique opportunity and early mover advantage in establishing a high quality, globally reputed institution. Further, a liberal and modern society is an attraction for high quality academic and professional talent. It is now at an inflexion point of raising the quality and market relevance of the programs and fostering local research and intellectual base,” said Shukla.

The latest entrant to the UAE’s higher education landscape is the University of Birmingham Dubai, the latest phase in the university’s global expansion and builds on its international teaching activities in Singapore and China, as well as its extensive international research partnerships. “Our own market analysis identified a clear gap in the market for a top 100 global university to establish a campus in Dubai, with clear demand from students from the emirate itself, the wider UAE, as well as from key South Asian and North and Sub-Saharan Africa markets seeking the opportunity to receive the highest quality British education underpinned by a strong research pedigree in this easily accessible location. This alongside the commitment of the Dubai government to establishing an international education hub, which builds on its high-quality international primary and secondary education system, is driven by a strong English Language base, and supported through the creation of an education free zone, made it the right location for us,” said Cathy Gilbert, Director of External Relations, University of Birmingham.

University of Birmingham Dubai will be located in Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) and the first phase of the campus will open in late 2017, with the first undergraduate and postgraduate students starting their studies in September 2018. Initially, Dubai students will have a choice of study areas including Business, Economics, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Primary and Secondary Teacher Education, with additional programmes in development. Degrees at University of Birmingham Dubai will be taught, examined and accredited to the same recognised high standards as those delivered on the University’s UK campus in Birmingham and all programmes carry the approval by the Dubai Government’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

Through a series of case studies, panel discussions and key-note presentations the IPSEF HE Forum will raise awareness of the key components involved in developing a strategy for expansion or market entry, and will include how to design a campus abroad, top tips for finding the right partners in the UAE, understanding and complying with various legal frameworks, market reports and data, staff recruitment, student recruitment, as well as presenting case histories from the UAE and the wider MENA region.

Guests will have the opportunity to network with a broad range of senior figures with whom they can build up long-term professional relationships as well as participate in the University Campus tour that is part of the agenda.

Some of the high profile speakers who will be sharing their expert insights include Ahmed Al Ansari, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dubai South; Prof Christopher Abraham, Head – Dubai Campus, S P Jain School of Global Management; Ahmed Badreldin, Partner, The Abraaj Group; Dr Warren Fox, Chief of Higher Education, KHDA; Cathy Gilbert, Director of External Relations, University of Birmingham; Roland Hancock, Director, PwC; Clay Hensley, Senior Director, International Higher Education Outreach, The College Board; Prof. Ammar Kaka, Provost and Vice-Principal, Heriot-Watt University and Andy Nicol, Managing Director, Hobsons Solutions; Ian Pratt, Director, Scott Brownrigg; Arjun Puri, Head of admissions, O P Jindal Global University; Dr. Narayanan. Ramachandran, Pro Vice Chancellor, Amity University; Abhishek Sharma, Chief Executive Officer, Foundation Holdings; Ross Barfoot, Partner, Clyde & Co; Zalfa Chamoun Hart, Director, Chamoun Hart; Daniel Adkins, Chief Executive Officer, Transnational Academic Group Middle East; Taner Topcu, Director, RAK FTZ Academic Zone; Cameron Mirza, Head of Transformation, University of Bahrain; and Philip Corfield-Smith, Real Estate Partner, Pinsent Mason.

The IPSEF Higher Education Forum is taking place alongside IPSEF Middle East, scheduled on Oct. 3-5 at the same venue. The latter is an equally high-level conference focusing on the private and international schools market in the region. Further information on both events, including registration details, may be obtained by visiting — SG

Source: The Saudi Gazette

UAE to Spend $2.72bn on Education, Focus on IT

uae 67366By Arabia Higher Ed Staff

The UAE government spending Dh10 billion ($2.72 billion) on education investment through 2021 with a significant portion of it on transforming the IT infrastructure in schools.

In the UAE and Middle East, governments and private schools are heavily investing in the latest educational technology to drive differentiated learning and collaborative projects that will help students prepare for the technology-infused careers, said an expert.

Students are collaborating with schools across the country and around the world, educational institutions are storing student records digitally in the cloud, and IT teams are also deploying campus-wide cyber-security solutions to protect academic data, said Andrew Calthorpe, CEO at UAE-based IT infrastructure and information management consultancy and solutions provider Condo Protego.

For the UAE government, education is the largest share for social services spend at Dh10.2 billion through 2021, according to the Ministry of Finance. This investment is aligned with UAE Vision 2021 goals of fostering a first-rate education system with smart systems.

“UAE educational institutions are heavily investing in educational technology innovations, and as a result need to simplify and upgrade their IT infrastructure to support these initiatives,” said Calthorpe.

At one of the UAE’s leading higher education institutions, Condo Protego designed and implemented an innovative project that prioritises storage and protection of academic data. Now, the institution can centrally manage data recovery and retrieval from its 17 campuses, with full disaster recovery to a second data center.

As a result, the project has driven the institution’s operational efficiency, reduced technology infrastructure complexity, freed up staff for mission critical tasks, and supported students to switch campuses while retaining online coursework and resources.

“Educational institutions need the right channel partner to drive digital transformation, with a focus on analyzing, storing, and securing data. Channel partners are vital for upskilling educational institution IT staff, who can in turn train educators and administrators on using data to drive better education outcomes,” added Calthorpe

King Saud and United Arab Emirates Universities Join Asia Universities Alliance


The Asian Universities Alliance Founding Assembly and the first AUA Summit were held in Beijing on April 29th.

A joint statement from the 15 AUA founding universities identified four objectives: to “promote mobility of students, scholars and staff among all members,” “strengthen research collaboration and joint innovation,” “establish high-level dialogues and forums to discuss higher education strategies and policies,” and “compile and publish annual reports on Asian higher education.”

“We believe that higher education will play an increasingly important role in future Asian societies and that economic globalization has made openness the trend of higher education,” the statement said. “AUA will embrace that trend by building closer ties both among member universities and with universities outside AUA. Together, we will play a more significant role in world higher education.”

The following universities are members of the alliance:

  1. Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
  2. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  3. Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
  4. King Saud University, Saudi Arabia
  5. National University of Singapore
  6. Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan
  7. Peking University, China
  8. Seoul National University, South Korea
  9. Tsinghua University, China
  10. United Arab Emirates University
  11. Universitas Indonesia
  12. University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
  13. University of Malaya, Malaysia
  14. The University of Tokyo, Japan
  15. University of Yangon, Myanmar

AURAK Appoints a New Provost

aurakThe American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) has this week announced Prof. Steven C. Wilhite as the university’s new provost and vice president for academic affairs and student success.

Prof. Wilhite, who joins the university in time for the 2017/18 academic year, brings a wealth of experience to the role. He served as provost at Widener University, Philadelphia, since 2011, as well as a period as interim president from 2015 to 2016. He also served a number of other leadership positions at Widener, such as associate provost for graduate studies, and dean of the School of Human Service Professions.

Commenting on the new appointment, AURAK president, Prof. Hassan Hamdan Al Alkim stated, “We have made significant progress over the last year, culminating in the university being granted candidacy by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). In Prof. Wilhite, we have another outstanding administrator joining our team, who will no doubt significantly contribute to the advancement of AURAK and the attainment of our goals.”

Originally from Tennessee, Prof. Wilhite earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Emory University, Atlanta, U.S., where he graduated with highest honors. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, he was awarded a Marshall Scholarship to attend the University of Oxford, England, earning a Ph.D. in Human Experimental Psychology.

Prof. Wilhite was a participant in a year-long institute for New Chief Academic Officers with the American Council on Education, attended the Management and Leadership in Education Institute at Harvard University, and had a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois.

With AURAK striving for SACSCOC institutional accreditation, Prof. Wilhite also has invaluable experience. He has been a member of accreditation site visit teams for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Prof. Wilhite authored the book, Learning and Memory: The Basis of Behavior (1992) and edited the book, Civic Engagement and Service Learning in a Metropolitan University: Multiple Approaches and Perspectives (2011). In total, he has more than thirty publications and has presented more than fifty scholarly papers.

Prof. Wilhite’s current research interests include applied cognitive psychology and educational psychology, especially in relation to civic and community engagement, emotional competence, higher education leadership, and faculty development.

An Overview of the UAE Higher Education System

uae 67366By Arabia Higher Ed Staff

The higher education landscape in the UAE has been developing at a fast pace,  a reflection of the rapidly growing population and the increased societal needs.

The UAE higher education sector currently comprises just over 100 institutions enrolling over 120,000 students.  Three of these institutions (Higher Colleges of Technology, the UAE University and Zayed University) are sponsored by the federal government, and operate at the national-level through branches in different emirates.

The three federally sponsored institutions account for about 34% of total student enrolment (about 40,000 students) and provide access to higher education primarily to Emirati citizens, which make up more than 90 per cent of the federal student body. The other higher education institutions are non-federal institutions, also referred to as private institutions although some may benefit from emirate funding.

There are 37 international branch campuses from 11 different countries, which cater primarily to the expatriate community, and increasingly to international students from the neighboring regions.  The UK is the highest sending country with nine branch campuses, followed by India with eight, and the USA with six. 

With over 70 per cent of all foreign branch campuses in the UAE, Dubai is the emirate that has contributed the most to the significant changes in the country's higher education sector over the past decade. 

Dubai has 54 higher education institutions, with an estimated total of about 48,000 students, registered in 468 academic programs. In addition to three federal institutions, enrolling just over 8,500, there are 24 non-federal local institutions and 27 international branch campuses from 10 different countries (Australia, UK, USA, India, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Ireland, France and Lebanon) which have been attracted by the favorable conditions offered by the purpose-built free zones in the emirate and the potential of Dubai.

The majority of all students in Dubai (69%) are enrolled in bachelor's programs (accounting for 52 per cent of all programs), 19% of students are enrolled in master's degree (33% of all programs), and 8% in foundation programs.

International branch campuses in Dubai offer 237 programs, many of which (43%) are at the master's degree level.  The majority of programs (37%) are within the field of business. Indeed, with more than 160 business programs on offer, Dubai has become a niche destination for international business students. However, in the recent years the emirate has been able to diversify the range of programs available, extending to areas such as media, humanities, law and natural and physical sciences, due, in particular, to international branch campuses offering a wider range of programs than the local non-federal institutions. Students studying in Dubai are from a wide range of nationalities. Emirati students make up the largest group (43%), followed by Asian students (21 per cent), and other Arab students (13%), with a recent substantial increase in the number of African students.

In 2000 the federal government established the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) as the federal quality assurance agency charged with licensing non-federal institutions and accrediting their programs.

All non-federal institutions providing a higher education program of one academic year or longer must be licensed and have its programs accredited by CAA in order to be legally recognized by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR).

CAA currently oversees 75 licensed non-federal institutions enrolling over 75,000 students, 55% of which are non-Emiratis.

The three federal institutions have traditionally been regarded as self-regulating and subject to their own quality assurance mechanisms. However, starting from the 2013-14 academic year, in the attempt to bring consistency across the sector, the MOHESR has mandated that they also be regulated by CAA.  

The only providers currently exempt from federal licensure and accreditation requirements are foreign institutions operating within free zones. These institutions are subject exclusively to the local emirate authority, although they can voluntarily apply to be reviewed and accredited by CAA as some have chosen to do.

Currently there are 23 non-CAA accredited institutions in Dubai's free zones, and five in Ras Al Khaimah.

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