By Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri for Khaleej Times
The UAE is rapidly becoming a bastion of higher education and excellence in the region. It goes to its credit that the country is home to some of the excellent institutes and one of the best professional curriculums in the world. It has a wide range of universities in public and private sectors. Primarily, it can be classified into three sections: public, private, and global partnerships. This is where the UAE makes a difference, as its stringent regulations coupled with a liberal investment and visa policy has made it one of the sought-after destinations for higher education. The UAE has a number of international franchises on its soil, and they have their own campus and faculty that cater to the needs of a growing number of students.
The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has a foolproof cobweb of learning methods, which goes on to ensure that the process of accreditation, licensing, curriculum, faculty and degree awarding meets the highest acknowledged standards. The government is one of the biggest investor and stakeholder in the higher learning process. The country allocates around 25 per cent of its federal spending on education, which is by no means a small task. The intention is to promote the UAE's standard of life and groom the nation to a competing world. Moreover, the UAE is the dream of the Arab world, which is why the country makes sure that universal education is attained for its nationals, and is home to all possible avenues of higher learning, research and development.
Soon after its inception in 1971, the leadership had set its eyes on providing the best possible higher education to its citizens. In 1976, the United Arab Emirates University was established in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi. It was one of the pioneer institutes to kick-start research and development in the higher echelons of learning for both nationals and expatriates. Since then there was no looking back for the UAE. Higher education faculties in science, medicine, literature, banking, technology, fine arts and business studies abound all around. One of the most outstanding achievements of the young country has been to set up the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training, which is linked with multinational companies to provide training in professional development to hundreds and thousands of aspirants in their relevant fields. The UAE believes in equal opportunities for all and is one of the first Arab and Muslim countries to promote female education. Today women are at the vanguard in all walks of life, and are heading many of the government departments and cabinet portfolios. This is an instant outcome of higher learning process in the country.
The concept of global partnership with renowned academic institutions of the world has enriched the UAE's mosaic of higher education. From academic institutions of excellence in the U.S. to India, and Europe and Far East Asia, all have their presence in the UAE offering various degree and specialisation courses. The benchmark of the UAE's success and credibility is that it has made tireless efforts to maintain the standard of curriculum, faculty and on-campus facilities, making them state-of-the-art and best on the doorstep for people living and working here. The Dubai International Academic City and several such enclaves in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and elsewhere make it a hub for brainstorming and global competitiveness. The way the UAE has upheld quality of education through its uncompromising regulatory bodies, and the standard that it has set for international faculty is laudable, and put a feather in its cap.
Likewise, the UAE has more than 600 international schools, which provide it with a bigger pool of students and resource persons in its pursuit of excellence. With the country home to more than 200 nationalities and an enterprising global society in its midst, it has one of the most articulate and professional higher learning process in vogue. So is the case with investment in Research and Development. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and the Ruler of Dubai, believes in tripling investments in R&D over the next many years and boost the national workforce by 185,000. The essence is in building a knowledge-based economy, and to capitalise on it in times to come.