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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

UAE among emerging education hubs

The UAE has been included in a new book about international education.

DUBAI // The UAE has been included among the world’s emerging education centres in a new book.

Dr Warren Fox, head of higher education at Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority, has contributed to International Education Hubs: Student, Talent Knowledge-Innovation Models.

“It’s good for the UAE to be included in this list of such countries, especially Dubai, which is known as a hub for branch campuses from around the world,” Dr Fox said.

Dubai has more than 25 branch campuses, the highest number in the world.

“The advantage of a book like this is it improves planning for higher education across the globe and, of course, here in Dubai,” Dr Fox said.

“The UAE has achieved this status of being an international hub in spite of there being no national policy to do this. Plans have come from an emirate level.”

He said Abu Dhabi had campuses of institutions including New York University and the Paris-Sorbonne University, but Dubai led the way.

It opened its first international university, the University of Wollongong from Australia, 20 years ago.

Dr Fox said each emirate had its own policies for education.

“Dubai has a more open strategy and the free zones for international campuses,” he said.

“It’s different to the Abu Dhabi model where there is greater government support given to a smaller number of campuses.

“Dubai has built this system to meet Dubai’s needs with no oil and no direct subsidy from the Government, and it’s working really well.”

Dr Fox said quality remained a challenge across the country, where emirates such as Ras Al Khaimah had no regulating authority for institutions that included branches from the UK’s University of Bolton and the University of Pune, India.

“Quality assurance of the international branch campuses and their programmes is a major issue for the UAE given that they have the largest number of branch campuses in the world,” he said.

“Given that the national Commission on Academic Accreditation is not responsible for higher education institutions in economic free zones, each emirate is responsible for developing and managing its own quality assurance processes for universities in these free zones.”

The Dubai authority has a university quality assurance board comprising academics from around the world – the only such system in the UAE.

Dr Jason Lane, an education expert from the US , has researched the rise of the UAE as an education centre.

“The UAE is one of the most important countries when it comes to studying branch campuses, and any volume without it would be woefully incomplete,” Dr Lane said.

“Not only is the UAE the largest importer of international branch campuses in the world, they have helped position the UAE as a regional education hub, serving Emiratis, expats and others from across the region and beyond.

“Moreover, the varied approaches to the creation of these entities, between Dubai, Abu Dhabi and RAK make it an exciting nation to study.”

Trevor Spedding, a professor at the University of Wollongong in Dubai, said: “Dubai is now recognised in the global community as one of the top education destinations, both resulting from, and stimulating, the growth of the higher education sector.”

The book is edited by Jane Knight, of Toronto University’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

mswan@thenational.ae