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Amity university prepares to opens its doors in Dubai

Amity, one of India's largest private universities, is preparing to open its doors in September, adding one more to Dubai's array of branch campuses.

DUBAI // Amity, one of India's largest private universities, is preparing to open its doors in September, adding one more to Dubai's array of branch campuses.

Its chancellor, Atul Chauhan, says Dubai is one of 25 countries in which the university plans to set up over the next four to five years.

In India, the university - a family foundation run as a non-profit institution - has four campuses with more than 80,000 students.

The Dubai opening is a sign that the sector may be picking up after a quiet couple of years. According to Dr Warren Fox, head of higher education at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, the university regulator, the recession starved many universities of the resources to expand into the region.

Amity, however, is an addition he relishes. With a range of offerings to rival any other in the emirate, he says it will fill a void.

"We're not just looking for MBAs, which come through here all the time, we're looking for a range of programmes and it has been more challenging to find good institutions," he said.

Amity has adapted to the environment, says Mr Chauhan. "What we're offering, no other institutions are offering," he said. "We sat and studied the future of Dubai and the up and coming industries."

It will offer first and graduate degrees, and is building a 5,000 capacity campus in Dubai International Academic City (DIAC).

And it hopes to address Dubai's skew towards business courses - more than half the emirate's students take business degrees, and just one per cent do science.

Amity, meanwhile, will offer a diverse range of science and engineering courses, from forensic science to solar and alternative energy, including nuclear science, nanotechnology and aerospace engineering.

The university will also dedicate much effort to research, an area the country still lacks. It is working with around 200 local companies to identify the areas most needed.

It plans to hire 80 academics in the first year alone, and is hoping its reasonable fees - between Dh25,000 and Dh35,000 a year - will allow it to launch with 600 students. Dr Fox suggests, though, that 200 may be a more realistic estimate.

"They'll have a good start this autumn," said Dr Fox. "They'll grow and do well. Their research will help our research capacity here and the subjects they offer will certainly fit well with the strategic goals of Dubai."

Competition will be felt not least by its Indian rivals, BITS Pilani and Manipal universities, which are the biggest in the emirate and charge similar fees.

BITS Pilani, though, insists its new neighbour is welcome. M Riazuddin, its director of admissions, said the institution, which has more than 1,600 students at its DIAC campus, was not afraid of the competition.

"The more competition the better it is," he said. "People will go according to their perception of quality and good education."



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