Not just fees at stake, mixed genders is also an issue for women considering private universities.
Pros and cons of going private
DUBAI // Maita Al Humairy, 21, has chosen to study for her degree in finance at a private, fee-paying university.
When she left school, she applied to Zayed University but after visiting the University of Wollongong, Dubai campus, she changed her mind. "I liked the environment and when I went to the campus, I saw people from all different cultures and countries," she said.
While for her the fees have not been too much of a burden, she said that, had there been a voucher system in place, she would have been even more likely to have chosen a private university, or even travelled abroad.
Now in her third year, she can see the pros and cons of private education. "For people here, not all of them are bothered about the money, they will think about the fact it's mixed genders before that," she said. "At the same time, money also encourages students to take different options."
She is in no doubt the federal universities are still important to Emiratis - especially women.
"Mixed education would exclude certain local women from education, even if this is 2013," she said.