Study in UAE


Although education might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the UAE, the major education shift with world-class universities and potential tax-free earnings after graduation has attracted a huge number of international students especially from India in the last decade. For Indian students, the dominant factor to apply for admission in the UAE is the geographical location.

According to the 2017 data released by the Institute of International Education, there were a total of 77,469 international students in UAE with 13,370 from India alone. Other countries of origin for non-Emirati students in UAE include the Syrian Arab Republic, Jordan, Pakistan, Oman among others.

The Middle Eastern country is home to the best universities in the Gulf region according to the QS World University Rankings. Located at the eastern end of the Arabian Peninsula, the country is a federation of seven emirates or states including Abu Dhabi and Dubai that have continuously contributed to the development of private institutions along with enrollment growth.

With a population of only 97.7 lakhs as of 2019, the United Arab Emirates has grown more diverse because of its vibrant expatriate community and their impact on shaping the country’s culture. International students, substantially from India, have been drawn to the accredited universities in UAE every year. Among the top-ranked universities in UAE, the American University of Sharjah receives more than 5,000 applications every term, making it one of the most popular universities.

Engineering and Business are the preferred stream choices of students. Specifically, Accounting and Finance, and Computer Science are popular courses in UAE among Indian students at an undergraduate level. The top choice at postgraduate level is mechanical engineering. While there are several universities in the UAE which is the home for international students, Indian students at Rochester Institute of Technology covers around 22 per cent of its total students Apart from this, the University of Birmingham- UAE campus has more than one- fifth of the total students from India.

In addition to high education standards, students often choose UAE because of its unique cultures and traditions, which today many are eager to experience. The country is also ranked among the safest countries in the world, making it all the more ideal for overseas students.

With a literacy rate of around 95%, the UAE boasts of always putting a strong emphasis on education and ensuring that it, if not anything, is a global marketplace. UAE also holds 190 190 Guinness World Records and is, in fact, the first nation with a government minister exclusively in Artificial Intelligence.

COVID-19 Response

UAE Ministry of Education has announced another edition of COVID-19 procedures for all educational institutions to abide by in the academic year 2021-22.

  • All students travelling to the UAE will have to produce a negative result of a PCR test at the airport. The test must have been conducted 96 hours before the departure of the flight.

  • Students can download the ALHOSN UAE app on their mobile phones before they travel to Abu Dhabi.

  • All UAE universities will familiarise students with their health and safety protocols to reduce the spread of the virus on campus.

  • Class sizes will be limited in order to ensure proper physical distancing.

  • IELTS testing in the UAE has been resumed in a few locations.

  • A number of universities are still conducting online/hybrid classes in view of the pandemic.

Everything about Life Amid COVID-19 Pandemic in the UAE

Keeping in mind the importance of international students in the UAE and their integral role in tertiary education and in providing networking, internship and employment opportunities, the universities in the UAE have put in place all measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The UAE has, in fact, been described as one of the effective leaders in combating the virus. According to the COVID-19 Safety Ranking by Deep Knowledge Group, the UAE has been ranked 11th overall and first in the Arab world. It has been appreciated by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO) for the humanitarian initiatives introduced amidst the global pandemic.

Here are the measures mentioned in detail:

  • With the number of new COVID-19 tests per 1,000 people as of September 2020, the UAE has been one of the top countries in terms of testing.

  • It has recorded significant higher recovery rates and lower mortality rates compared to the global average.

  • The UAE has also been ahead in the vaccination game with the Sinopharm vaccine available to frontline workers and government officials from September 2020.

  • It is aiming at vaccinating the entire population of the UAE by the end of 2021.

  • In terms of economic recovery, the UAE was one of the first countries to get back to normalcy by mid 2020.

  • The higher education institutions in the UAE have been quick to shift to online learning with 25,000 teachers trained for the same.

  • With the UAE’s economic condition back on track, both international and domestic fresh graduates are getting offered good job opportunities.

  • According to the Financial Times’ FDI Markets, Dubai ranked fourth in the world and first in the Middle East and North Africa as a great place for greenfield FDI capital in 2020. The Dubai FDI Monitor reported that close to 18,325 new jobs were created through the invested FDI last year.

  • International undergraduate students are also given opportunities to work part-time by Dubai Development Authority (DDA), letting them gain relevant experience and ease their financial burden.

  • Given the availability of employment opportunities and uninterrupted access to higher education, student life in the UAE feels rather normal even under the current circumstances.

Education System in the UAE

The education system in the UAE is considerably new. The country’s commitment to the constant evolution of its education system has helped in the diversification of its economy and prepare a new generation of international talent. The UAE is home to a wide spectrum of educational institutions, both public and private universities.

Basic Education

It is based on the literacy rate of adults and the gross enrollment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary schools. At this level, children complete Grades 1 to 4, which focuses primarily on getting them ready for them to begin their educational journey.

Development Program (K-12)

Based on advanced education techniques and an enhanced curriculum, this plan is divided into four tiers:

  • Kindergarten (4–5 years old): KG 1 and KG 2

  • Primary School (6–11 years old): Grade 1–6

  • Preparatory Stage (12–14 years old): Grade 7–9

  • Secondary School (15–17 years old): Grade 9–12

Higher Education

This is the tertiary level at which a variety of institutions are open to students. HE in the UAE comprises public universities, private institutions, international universities, technical institutions and special education and learning services for students with special needs.

Types Of Higher Education Institutions In UAE

Public Universities

UAE citizens can study at public universities free of charge. Widely popular among international students, these universities include the UAE University, Zayed University, and Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT).

Private Institutions

Some of the most reputed and popular private higher education institutions in the UAE include Sharjah University, Abu Dhabi University, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, American Universities of Sharjah and Dubai, Al Hosn University and Ajman University of Science and Technology.

No. of Int'l Students in the UAE by Type of HE Institution

International Universities/Global Partnerships

These are international institutions that have campuses in the UAE, housed in special zones including Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Village. Some of them are New York University, University of Washington, Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, Sorbonne, Boston University and Rochester Institute of Technology.

Technical Institutions

The Higher Colleges of Technology in the UAE are sponsored primarily by the Center of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT). They are aimed at providing education, applied technology instruction and training. Other technical centres in the country are funded by the Petroleum Institute, Emirates Institute for Banking and Finance, Dubai School of Government, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company Career Development Centre and Emirates Aviation College for Aerospace and Academic Studies.

Special Education

This includes institutions designed specifically for students with special needs.

Why Study In the UAE?

Here are some of the top reasons why you should study in the UAE:

Academic Excellence: Over the past few years, UAE universities have been able to lure some of the top global educators in the world who are adding enormous value to their faculties. This is because of the country’s ever-evolving business as well as cultural reputation. A good number of British, Australian and Indian universities have opened campuses in the UAE, paving the way for global collaboration, academic prowess and more opportunities.

Recognition: From large public universities to smaller private colleges, international students are offered a range of higher education options. Many of these institutions are accredited by both the UAE’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR), and by an accrediting agency in another country. From world-class infrastructure to consistent growth in K-12 to over 30 internationally-accredited campuses, Dubai has emerged as a knowledge hub for the GCC and the broader MENASA region.

Flexible Visa Policies: The UAE government has been actively taking measures to attract international students by offering generous visa policies. From 2016, international students have been allowed to wokr part-time for designated recruiters, paving the way for students to obtain professional experience while studying. Exceptionally-talented students are now eligible for a ten-year residency while others can get a five-year visa and dependents can receive a visa extension which can help them start their career after graduation. UAE universities have also begun offering a greater number of scholarships to international students, including from India.
World-class Research: The country boasts great potential for students from across the world to engage in rapidly changing original research. Be it the oil sector, smart construction, infectious diseases or sustainability, the country offers research scope in a variety of areas.
Innovation: UAE universities have earned a reputation for giving students access to the latest technologies such as 3D printers; free zones specialised in healthcare, technology and other sectors; among other things. This has been possible because of the large number of MNCs that have based their regional headquarters in the UAE.

Unique University Culture: There is no doubt that study in the UAE would mean a completely different experience, primarily because of its overall diverse culture or way of life along with other factors such as new types of food, extraordinary places to visit, new traditions, etc.

Strategic Opportunity: Being one of the fastest-growing leaders in the higher education sector, the UAE is named among the top study destinations. Its inbound student mobility ratio of 48.6% is one of the highest in the world, with students coming from India, the Middle East, Pakistan and more. This has further led the country to serve as a great opportunity for foreign countries to set up a branch campus in the UAE to get closer to their source markets.

Best Places To Study In the UAE

The top four cities known to provide the best student experience in the UAE include:

  • Dubai

  • Sharjah

  • Ajman

  • Abu Dhabi

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