ABU DHABI // UAE students are increasingly being wooed by foreign universities trying to persuade them to study abroad.
The Qatar Foundation, which runs Education City in Doha, is looking for students at the three-day Najah exhibition for education and training. It is the foundation's first visit to the exhibition, which began yesterday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
Education City houses universities such as the Texas A&M University, which has a range of engineering programmes.
Theyab Saif al Hamadi, 17, is at Al Nahda school and would like to study chemical engineering at Texas A&M next year.
"It's close to home and is an American degree," he said. "It's known for its quality engineering programmes."
His friend and classmate Ali Yousef al Fardan would also prefer to stay closer to home. "I'd rather go to Doha than the US for my undergraduate studies," said the student hoping to study mechanical engineering. "But the universities there I think are better than the options here."
The Qatar Foundation has been visiting schools in the emirate this week to identify future students. Each year they have about 20 students of different nationalities coming from the UAE, as well as a project bringing 25 school counsellors from the region to learn about the opportunities in Doha's branch campuses.
Arwa Sulieman Ibnouf, head of student services at the Qatar Foundation, said: "Speaking to students about university in year 12 is too late. It's in year nine that you need to start the dialogue. We have students who by year 11 have already met their admissions requirements this way."
They also offer financial aid for those students who need funds to pay for the fees, which at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service costs US$39,768 (Dh146,000) for 2010 to 2011.
Higher Education Malaysia, which opened an office in Dubai in 2004, is also stepping up its recruitment campaign among students from the UAE, and it too is at the exhibition for the first time.
The country had 12 universities represented at the stand, which Higher Education Malaysia's regional director, Azam Shuaib, says were chosen after market research to target local demand.
About 2,000 students of all nationalities travel from the UAE each year to Malaysia, which has 70 Emirati students at its universities, according to Mr Shuaib.
Justin Yeah, marketing director at Malaysia's Berjaya University College of Hospitality, said the easy transition for students from the UAE is appealing. "The culture is very similar, the food is halal and it's affordable."