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Dubai to attract int’l students with new visa options, int’l campuses

Stakeholders are hopeful that the United Arab Emirates extended eligibility for its 10-year golden visas will further encourage international students to study in the country.

DubaiDubai International Academic City is home to international campuses from around the world. Photo: DIAC

27,000 students from almost 150 nationalities study in the park

The UAE has taken steps over the last few years to extend duration of stay and flexibility in certain categories despite having long had a reputation for a strict immigration and visa system.

Eligibility for golden visas was extended in late 2020.

Previously available only to categories including property investors, and talented professionals and students, it will now be open to all PhD holders, physicians, top performing graduates, and those working in high-tech fields such as artificial intelligence and big data.

“We have over 27,000 students from almost 150 nationalities that are studying in the universities within the park,” said Mohammad Abdullah, managing director of Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Park.

“[The golden visas are] something that will be supporting universities to attract students from different parts of the world. For those students to come and study in the country, that will open the door for them later on to find jobs,” he suggested.

“[The golden visas are] something that will be supporting universities to attract students from different parts of the world”

“Education is facing its biggest upheaval in decades, but our communities are uniquely positioned to adapt. With a number of future-focused campuses already open or poised to do so – alongside favourable rules and regulations from our wiser leaders – the Emirate has become an even more attractive destination for learning and development.”

Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Park, launched in 2007 and 2003 respectively, have become hubs for international education and innovation in the region, housing 27 universities, nine of which are local and regional and 18 of which are international.

Despite Covid-19, which made necessary the adoption of blended or online learning at institutions, stakeholders are optimistic about the future of international education in Dubai, with several TNE projects recently opened or due to in the near future.

“We will be opening our new state-of-the-art campus in September,” said Ben Bailey, campus director and the University of Birmingham Dubai. The campus is currently under construction and will accommodate up to 2,900 students upon completion.

“As vaccines begin to help manage the ongoing impact of Covid-19 in the UAE and around the world, Dubai and the UAE are well positioned to support the continued growth and development of the higher education sector in the Emirates,” he continued.

“We remain committed to providing excellent education and an outstanding and safe student experience, and look forward to welcoming new undergraduate and postgraduate students to our business, engineering, computer science, psychology, education and law programs for 2021.”

Australia’s Murdoch University also inaugurated its new campus in May 2020 in Dubai Knowledge Park, on a site twice the size of its former premises in Dubai International Academic City.

The University of Wollongong in Dubai, which was the first international university in the UAE, opened the doors of its Campus of the Future in August last year, while Heriot-Watt University Dubai will move into the park in April, 2021.

“Located as it is in Dubai Knowledge Park means we will now be right at the heart of the modern business and digital community in Dubai,” said Ammar Kaka, provost and vice principal of Heriot-Watt University Dubai.

“This makes the campus location a rich environment for industry-academia collaboration and will also open up work-based learning opportunities for our students.”

Mohammad Abdullah further added that encouraging international campuses continues to be important for Dubai.

“The UAE is like a universal city where you have all those people coming from different parts of the world,” he said, adding that that in order to attract international students, providing a wide variety of options in terms of different universities and courses was important.

“If you want to compete in attracting transnational students around the world, you need to assure that those requirements are available.”

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