Educating the world

A myriad of international campuses combined with an environment of opportunity is attracting growing numbers of young people, especially those from developing nations, to study in Dubai 

Dubai is emerging as a leading choice for students seeking to complete their education abroad thanks to a record number of international branch campuses, a robust regulatory system and excellent post-graduate employment opportunities.

This was the conclusion of an engaging panel discussion held at the Orange in Sanlitun Village in Beijing during Dubai Week in China.

Opening the talk, panel moderator Afshin Molavi, Senior Advisor at Oxford Analytica, suggested that, “Where you choose to study and work are life-transforming decisions. And Dubai is a life-transforming city.”

Speakers, who included overseas campus heads and academics, highlighted the fact that Dubai has the largest number of branch campuses of any city in the world, including from the UK, US, Australia, India, France, Pakistan, Ireland, Lebanon and Russia.

“In five to ten years I can see there being a flow of Chinese students to Dubai. The employment opportunities in Dubai are very attractive.”

David Tan, Country Director for China, Kaplan

They also praised the regulatory environment, acknowledging the work of Dubai’s educational quality-assurance body KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority) in maintaining standards.

Professor Ammar Kaka, Head of Campus and Executive Dean at Heriot-Watt University, Dubai, said an exemplary regulatory framework was a key reason for the Edinburgh-based institution opening a satellite in Dubai.

“The regulators do a tremendous job of controlling the quality of the universities in Dubai. This is important because we cannot do it alone. It has to be done collectively and it is crucial that quality is maintained.”

Speakers also pointed to employment opportunities in Dubai, which is situated at the epicentre of a high-growth region, as a further incentive for students, especially graduates from emerging markets such as China.

“In five to ten years I can see there being a flow of Chinese students to Dubai,” predicted David Tan, Country Director for China at international higher education group Kaplan. “The employment opportunities in Dubai are very attractive.”

Dubai Week in China
Dr Yousef Al-Assaf, Rochester Institute of Technology-Dubai was one of the audience members at the Higher Education and Employment session

Expo 2020, which will take place in Dubai, was cited as another reason for studying in the emirate. Referencing the 300,000 jobs expected to be created as a result of the event, Randa Bessiso, Founding Director, of Manchester Business School’s Middle East Centre, described the event as a “catalyst for future job growth”.

With people from more than 200 nationalities calling Dubai home, panelists agreed that in a globalised economy, the experience of studying in one of the world’s most multicultural cities offered clear employment prospects. “Today’s employers want to see the skills of being able to work in a multicultural environment,” offered James Maughan, Director of Dubai Business Internships and the Study Dubai initiative, Falcon and Associates.

Curricula proving particularly popular in Dubai include business, construction, engineering and hospitality. As Dr John Fong, Director of Business Development and Consulting at Dubai’s Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, pointed out: “Dubai has the highest density of five-star hotels in the world. Why wouldn’t you choose to study hospitality there?”

Dr Naji Almahdi, Chief of Qualifications and Awards at KHDA, stressed that the applied learning approach common at Dubai’s international campuses, offered clear paths to career progress: “In Dubai you learn the skillsets you need to be employed in the future. And what I mean by this is meaningful employment that gives you a rewarding career.”

Deloitte research in 2013 covering over 2,000 students and companies in Africa, Middle East and Asia, found that after the US, Canada and the UK, the UAE was the fourth most popular study destination.