All you need to know about securing a visa to study in the UAE

ministryOfHigherEducationBy Murtaza Khan for The National

Since highly accredited universities such as New York University and Sorbonne opened their doors in the UAE, there has been an increase in foreign students studying here. In fact, according to a 2014 report by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science Research, expatriate students in higher education now account for an impressive 40 per cent of the total 128,279 students across the UAE. So how can a student secure a visa to study in the Emirates?

How to qualify

While unmarried daughters in the UAE can remain under their father’s sponsorship regardless of their age, sons cannot be sponsored by a family member beyond 18. On an exceptional basis, immigration authorities have been known to allow male students over the age 18 to continue their parent’s sponsorship for a UAE residence permit so long as they provide evidence of attendance at an educational institution for a minimum one year’s course. Such a residency is usually granted for one year at a time and difficult to obtain beyond the age of 21. Therefore it’s important to consider other sponsorship options such as through the academic institution itself. For international students with no relatives in the UAE, a higher educational institute such as an accredited university can generally assume the role of sponsorship, making the application process more streamlined. The application will require submission of the requisite documents followed by a medical check-up. Annual renewal of student visas is required for each year of study.

The fine-print for a six-month gap

Once a student visa is granted, leaving the UAE for a consecutive period longer than six months (180 days) can lead to the invalidation of the visa unless the reasons fall under special exceptions to this rule. For example, medical treatment supported by a doctor certificate and approved by a UAE embassy. This means that students looking to do terms abroad will have to do so for less than six months, otherwise they will have to reapply for a new visa on their return. With many international study-aboard programmes offering four to five-month courses, a dream term in Barcelona or New York is still very much a possibility.

Working on a student visa

Under the Federal Law, students over 18 can apply for work permits enabling them to apply for part-time jobs to help fund their education, rent and general expenses. For the more ambitious students, this enables them to apply for internships or work experience while studying, something that will give them a competitive advantage when applying for jobs after graduating. While this is applicable to the mainland, other jurisdictions have implemented similar regulations for student employment. The Dubai Creative Clusters Authority, for example, announced on Octo­ber 18 that students from selected universities are able to take up employment at about 4,500 businesses across nine creative clusters including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Dubai Studio City.

After graduation

Many graduates from UAE educational institutes decide that, with no current income taxes, excellent career opportunities and a lucrative lifestyle, the UAE is a place they would like to call home. If not sponsored by a parent or spouse, it is possible for new graduates to obtain employment residence permits sponsored by an employer. However, international graduates unable to find employment are required to cancel their student visas and leave the UAE until employment is secured from abroad.

While female graduates are able to transfer to father/spouse sponsorship, expat men or women with no sponsor or job will be given a 30-day grace period after the cancellation of the visa during which they can stay in the country without a visa.

The cost

The cost of a residence permit for student depends on the sponsor (parent or university), the jurisdiction of the sponsor (in case of university), if the applicant is inside or outside of the UAE and if the application is processed in a normal or expedited way. Further differences may apply depending on the emirate or jurisdiction within the emirate.

In addition to the residence permits, individuals will be required to obtain a student work permit. The approximate cost of a student residence permit is Dh2,500 excluding security deposit (if applicable), file opening fees (if applicable), legalisation of documents and translation (if required). Additional fees of Dh500 for a student work permit will apply.

UC Berkeley faculty to teach United Arab Emirates science of happiness

HaasBy Fionce Siow

The UC Berkeley Center for Executive Education, alongside the Haas School of Business and the campus’s Greater Good Science Center, is teaching 60representatives from the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, on the science of positivity to foster a culture of happiness in their work and lifestyle.

According to Hana AlHashimi, happiness representative for the UAE Permanent Mission to the United Nations, UC Berkeley faculty will teach the UAE’s appointed 60 chief happiness and positivity officers, or CHPOs, about the science of happiness from September 2016 to January 2017. AlHashimi added that the CHPOs being taught are workers from a variety of fields, including the government and the private sector.

“The idea is that our new generation of national leaders that have been selected as chief happiness and positivity officers should be receiving world-class knowledge and practical skills in the field of happiness,” AlHashimi said.

The first module of the five-month program was taught from Sept. 4 to Sept. 9 in Dubai by Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director of the Greater Good Science Center, and Dacher Keltner, campus psychology professor. According to Simon-Thomas, their lessons for the module revolved around the origins and key facets of happiness.

Simon-Thomas said she believes that the UAE is unique in trying to implement and understand happiness in order to increase the positivity of its population and visitors.

“The Greater Good Science Center has been writing and reporting and offering workshops and trainings on the origins of happiness for 15 years,” Simon-Thomas said. “I don’t think there are many other science centers at other universities that have the same knowledge of … teaching about these topics.”

The UAE chose to work with UC Berkeley and the Oxford Mindfulness Centre because they were identified as institutions with significant expertise in the field.

The UC Berkeley Center for Executive Education declined to comment on the project.

AlHashimi noted, however, that the UC Berkeley program is only one component of the UAE’s five-year National Program for Happiness and Positivity. The national program also aims to approach positivity as a lifestyle and to follow up on and measure the UAE’s national happiness.

The campus’s location, AlHashimi said, is beneficial as well. She added that businesses in the Silicon Valley and Bay Area would provide real-life examples of how companies can potentially create happiness in the workplace.

These cross-cultural exchanges are influenced by an “appreciation for cultural diversity” within the UAE, AlHashimi said, which will, in turn, foster new perspectives.

“Happiness and positivity should be an ultimate objective … in all countries,” AlHashimi said. “This goes beyond just economics but really looking at happiness as an ultimate objective in our economic, social and environmental policies.”

Contact Fionce Siow at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow her on Twitter at @fioncesiow.

Top 10 universities in the UAE

University of DubaiBy Bhagyashree Mehrotra

Quality Education is a major concern for both students and parents all over the world. Fortunately the United Arab Emirates offers a range of educational opportunities for both international and local students.

Below is the list of the top ten universities of UAE, rated by the website The site ranks universities based on nine different categories including: academic reputation, employer reputation, international students, international faculty and number of citations per paper.

1: United Arab Emirates University

UAE University is the ranked the best institution in the country and sixth best in the Gulf region, enrolling up to fourteen thousand Emirati and international students. It offers a range of both undergraduate and graduate courses ranging from humanities to IT and medical sciences. The university is also a highly ranked research institution, at 20 in the world, according to the site. Top Universities states that 67.7 per cent of students at the school are international.

2: American University of Sharjah

American University of Sharjah is ranked seventh in the whole of the Gulf. It claims to provide the dynamic feel of American universities, while reflecting the culture of the Emirates. The institution is rated highly for both its academic reputation and its number of international students and has more than thirty thousand members.

3: University of Sharjah

With an academic reputation of 91 per cent, University of Sharjah stands in the UAE. It also has a high ranking for both international students and the quality of its faculty. The institution’s website claims that it has a global vision and aims to possess the qualities of renowned universities all around the world. It also strives to be one of the top research-based universities and provides extensive opportunities to its students by offering eight different programmes.

4: Zayed University

Zayed University has a good academic reputation with a rating of 82 per cent. Its mission is to prepare students to contribute to the better of the nation by offering optimum education opportunities. The institution aims to make sure that its education is of international.

5: American University in Dubai

American University In Dubai stands 19th in the Gulf with an academic reputation of 79.9 per cent, according to Top Universities. It offers interactive undergraduate, graduate and professional courses and other related facilities such as work placement programmes.

6: Khalifa University

Khalifa University aims to be a major research based institution, with various courses based on science, technology and research.. It offers up to nine undergraduate engineering programmes and 7 graduate degree programmes, according to KD’s wesbite. The graduate degree programmes consist of extensive courses such as mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering and electrical and computer engineering.

7: Abu Dhabi University

website, the institution states that 90 per cent of students gain employment within a year of graduation. It is also very international with students from over fifty nationalities. ADU’s vision is to gain international recognition for its good quality education and research.

8: Ajman University of Science and Technology

Ajman University of Science and Technology is in the top 45 Gulf institutions, and has a goal of producing international leaders, according to its website. It also aims to continually enhance and improve its teaching techniques and technological assets, for better quality education.

9: Higher Colleges of Technology

Higher Colleges of Technology is one of the few institutions in UAE to be rated with three QS stars for excellence by Top Universities. The university was created in 1988 with the ultimate aim of educating nationals for professional and technical careers deemed important to support the rapid development of the country.

10: University of Dubai

University of Dubai aims to be a world-class university for education and provides a range of both undergraduate and graduate courses. These include a variety of business and IT programmes that are locally and internationally accredited.

Three UAE universities put under probation

mheUAE education authorities have decided to place three local private universities under probation by suspending registration of students for one year on the grounds their performance is relatively weak.

The Ministry of Education said no new admission of students would be allowed at Al Hosn, Al Jazeirah and Modern Science Universities for one year after they were found to be below the required university level.

“The Ministry is responsible not only for granting licences to universities but also for the evaluation of education institution to ensure they abide by the required criteria,” Minister of State for Higher Education Ahmed Belhoul said.

He told reporters that a report prepared by global experts found that these universities were not up to the required level, adding that the Ministry “does not accept graduates with certificates that do not conform to labour market requirements.”

He said the Ministry has provided the necessary observation to those universities so they will redress their position during the probation period.

Ryerson's FCAD Forging New Creative Frontiers in Dubai

dubai resizedRyerson University's Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD) and the Canadian University Dubai (CUD) announced a new international partnership that will see the development of a creative education hub in Dubai.

"This is an exciting partnership for us in a global city known for its innovation and creativity," says FCAD's Dean Charles Falzon. "This collaboration represents an opportunity for us to mobilize talent, ideas and global connections in order to advance cultural industries in both countries."

Building on Canadian University Dubai's existing offerings in media and design, the new faculty will include a Creative Industries program, modelled after the successful program offered at Ryerson; the new program will launch in September 2017. The agreement also outlines an intention to add additional programs in specific areas in the future. FCAD will work with the Canadian University Dubai in providing ongoing technical and curricular expertise and will assist in the recruitment of scholars from around the world.

The "Creative Industries" refers to a distinctive group of creative fields pertaining to media, design, entertainment and the visual and performing arts. While these fields have long been recognized for their cultural value, they are also an important economic driver and key to urban development and renewal.

As a rapidly expanding economy and cultural hub in the Middle East, Dubai offers opportunities for new ideas, creative people and a rich historical tradition. The Creative Industries program will capitalize on this by offering students classes in the art and business of film, the business and practice of news, printing and publishing, the music industry and the fashion industry. In addition, the two institutions will also work with the city of Dubai to develop a Creative Incubator in the Dubai Design District.

"This strategic partnership offers our students and faculty an opportunity to not only participate in a world class program, but also to take advantage of the Creative Incubator space and creative talents for the region and the world" said Dr. Karim Chelli, Canadian University Dubai's President. "Canadian University Dubai prides itself in promoting its students as global citizens, providing them with this unique and exciting opportunity for development, growth and education through our new collaboration is a testament to that focus."

The new faculty will offer Canadian University Dubai degrees and is expected to attract students from over 100 countries in the Middle East and Africa, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.



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