Opportunities for UAE to be the Higher Education Study Destination

Opportunities for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in international (UAE based universities as an illustration):

What are the current and emerging target markets?

a) Local UAE/GCC world-class seek world class education that helps launch them into a global, highly paid career within the local economy or globally.

b) Expatriate communities within GCC from South Asia, Central Asia, Africa, Europe who seek a local, affordable, globally recognized education with employability opportunities within the local economy, their countries of origin or globally. Parents may also be reluctant to send their children to their home country (or overseas) for university education due to safety, quality, and college readiness of their wards.

c) Immigrant students from South Asia, Central Asia, Africa who seek a global educational experience and due to poor supply of seats in their native higher education system are willing to pay a premium for a globally recognized and world class higher education in a safe and dynamic environment of UAE to further their employability.

d) Serving professionals within the geographical neighborhood to enhance their skills and qualifications to stay relevant in the competitive workforce through Executive Education and Training.

Note: According to our research Dubai attracts 11,000 intakes in university programs every year while graduating 13,000 students from the domestic school ending cohort(Year 13/Grade 12). Further research by the British Council on incoming student visas issued for university students in Dubai is around 3,500 (this data is a bit old). This implies that nearly 6,500 students leave Dubai for higher education. The data for broader UAE is not available.

Strategic implication -> There is a two-fold strategic opportunity for Dubai/UAE universities

• Improve the quality HEI provision in UAE to ‘retain’ the high-school graduates (estimated 13,000 in UAE) within UAE based university – this can be achieved only if the programs are market aligned, fees are competitive, learning and career outcomes ie. employability are superior and the local job market absorption of the graduates is high. All universities and in fact regulators need to work on this aspect of ‘retention’.

• Increase the incoming students from strategic markets like South Asia especially India and Pakistan, Central Asia, Russia/CIS and select African countries leveraging the competitive advantages of UAE – High quality HE provision – with over 100 universities, high quality infrastructure, safe and secure environment for college students, liberal society with social opportunities, proximity to home country and competitive and market-relevant programs.

This can only work if UAE invests in “Study in UAE” branding with focus, investments and long-term vision. This is an idea that Higher Education UAE has been advocating for long and is happy to take the mantle on behalf of the regulators as a mission. Shout out to KHDA, ADEK, Ministry of Education – “hope you agree?”. We would love to work on a ‘mission mode’ plan and realize the dream of UAE becoming the HE study destination for this part of the world. Study in Canada, Study in Malaysia, Study in Russia are some success stories.

Endnote – One of the creative ways to make this viable is the contribution from existing universities on a pro-rata basis say 1% or revenue that will be pooled for this effort of the marketing, international education events and outreach campaign.

In the next article – how can global partnerships be leveraged by UAE based HEIs…

I am the Owner of this educational search portal to facilitate the students to pick up the desired programs.

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