x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Students wooed to spend time in Dubai

An Australian university launches a programme to encourage students from other parts of the world to spend a semester in Dubai.

An Australian university has launched a programme to encourage students from other parts of the world to spend a semester in Dubai. The Study Abroad in Dubai initiative was unveiled by the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) and was also presented at a conference in Los Angeles. Organisers particularly hope American students keen to study outside their home country will consider spending time in the Middle East instead of another western country. Students will be encouraged to study Arab history and the Arabic language during their time in the UAE.

"Several stereotypes and myths are associated with the Middle East," said Rob Whelan, president of the UOWD, at the launch of the programme. "What better way to eliminate these misconceptions than by introducing a programme where the students can come and see for themselves?" Prof Whelan added: "As the region gains growing importance, it is essential that students from abroad understand and experience the local language, culture, and business practices."

Stephen Garret from Australian Education International, a government department, said: "It is the Australian government's target to boost the percentage of students studying abroad to 20 per cent over the next 10 years. "Currently there are less than 10 per cent of the Australian student population who are studying abroad, so it is a difficult target, but we are identifying the universities in the Middle East as where Australian students can go to study for six months or so."

According to Prof Whelan, a positive response to the new programme is expected as, despite the financial crisis and economic downturn, there has been a small but noticeable increase in the number of students enrolling for higher education. People at any overseas university who have completed a year of study can apply for the programme, which involves spending one semester at the UOWD and costs, when tuition, accommodation and other fees are included, about Dh41,300.

Jay Jayatikala, the UOWD's international marketing manager, said he expected most students taking part would come from Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand. However, the first response to the programme had been from a university in Jakarta, Indonesia, which hopes to send 25 students to Dubai. "Most universities, particularly in the United States, encourage students to study abroad at an overseas university for at least a semester," he said. "Typically, the American students would go to Europe or Australia or New Zealand. We're saying, 'Come to Dubai and learn about Arab culture'."

nsamaha@thenational.ae dbardsley@thenational.ae