Students, aspiring for quality education at affordable cost, in great numbers have been flocking to Dubai which has emerged as a global hotspot for higher education. This is more so in the engineering and technology streams where the demand-supply gap is huge. Citing UNESCO statistics experts confirm that inbound student mobility to the UAE seeking higher education has been growing in enormous velocity.
The number of international degree-seeking students in the UAE witnessed a spike from 48,653 in 2011 to 77,463 in 2016 according to data from UNESCO. “India contributes the largest number of foreign-seeking degree students,” says Ajay Shukla, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Higher Education UAE, adding “this is not surprising considering that they form the largest number of expats in the UAE.”
According to UNESCO, Indian students make up about 19 per cent of all international students. The other countries which contribute a high number of inbound degree-seeking students in the UAE include Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Oman. “This is because Dubai has emerged as a knowledge hub in the MENA region,” affirms Dr T. Vinay Kumar, Director, Third Wave Overseas Education.
Dubai has become a favourite among parents and students for multiple reasons, the first being the freedom to choose between educational institutions. Dubai, interestingly, is home to 60 globally respected international university campuses, the largest number anywhere in the world. Notably, India is all set to open its first branch of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in the UAE.
Even as they cite Dubai’s top-class infrastructure, experts also hail its generous visa policy. Students doing post-graduation have been allowed to take up part-time work since 2016 for designated employers. Besides extending one-year residency for foreign university graduates, exceptionally talented students also get a 10-year residency while others are provided a five-year visa.
While Indian campuses offer 50% scholarship for eligible students, some foreign universities have exchange programs. “Students in the campuses of UK universities can study one year in Dubai and the second year in the parent university campus. “After studies, they can also stay back for 2 years,” says Dr. Vinay.
Students opt for Dubai because most of them land employment in the companies where they do internship, Dr. Vinay explains. Besides its strategic location, Dubai is also a safe haven for the student community due to its stable political leadership which according to Dr. Shukla is one major attraction.
Pursuing higher education in Dubai is affordable due to lower tuition fees and cost of living. “They are far lower compared to study destinations like the UK, US, Canada or European countries,” points out R.N. Saha, BITS Pilani Dubai Campus Director. But Dr. Vinay says Dubai would benefit a lot if it starts offering MD programs for medical students.
“Doing MD in India is very expensive and it is tough to get admission in English-speaking countries while non-English speaking countries do not offer MD programs to students who have completed their MBBS back home. So, if Dubai starts offering MD programs, it would attract thousands of students from India,” opines Dr. Vinay.
The status of global hotspot for higher education, Dubai’s political leadership knows, does help the emirate since it has an opportunity to retain and utilise graduating talents for a longer term to achieve its avowed goal of emerging as a knowledge-based economy with emphasis on emerging technologies.
As a global leader in innovation, a hyperconnected business hub and multicultural melting pot, Dubai’s international universities offer a wealth of courses designed for forward-thinking leaders of the future, from disruptive technologies to business qualifications to art and literary creative programs, Dubai is the preferred destination for high-profile multinationals looking to supercharge their career prospects.