x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Zayed University to double in size

The university will almost double its enrolment to more than 9,000 within five years and increase its research activities.

The Zayed University campus in Dubai.
The Zayed University campus in Dubai.

ABU DHABI // Zayed University will almost double its enrolment within five years and increase its research activities, it announced yesterday. In a report titled Destined to Lead, the university said its undergraduate enrolment would increase from the current 4,820 to more than 9,000 by 2014. It said the expansion reflected the rise in the number of Emiratis due to reach university age.

Unlike the UAE University in Al Ain, which recently said it would launch PhD programmes and specialise in engineering and scientific research, Zayed will focus on liberal arts and professional degrees, and on increasing its undergraduate numbers. It plans to open a department of Emirati studies, which from next year will offer degrees in Emirati studies; a Confucius Institute of Chinese studies; a centre for training UAE diplomats; a judicial academy; and an institute for the study of the Islamic world that it said may eventually offer doctoral degrees.

The university, which was founded in 1998 and has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, also intends to offer a multimedia communications degree, and set up a college for international and advanced studies staffed by visiting scholars. It plans to open a research centre, the Zayed University Academy, to consider ways of reforming the UAE's education system. It will also open a science department, but there are no plans to offer engineering programmes.

The university, which was originally for women only, plans to enrol more male students, who it hopes will make up 10 per cent of the total by 2014 and more thereafter. A new campus in Abu Dhabi will have space for 2,700 men, and some will enrol at its Dubai campus from next year. The Government has said it would like to see more men in higher education; currently, just 40 per cent of students at federal universities are men.

Both Zayed and the UAE University appointed new provosts last year, each with senior experience in US higher education, who have drawn up the two institutions' reform programmes. Dr Daniel Johnson, the provost at Zayed, said he believed it was a "historic period" for the university. "It's time for us to go on to the next level in achieving the vision of Zayed University, which is to become the leading university in the region," he said. He conceded, however, that the university had yet to secure funding for the whole expansion programme. He said Zayed would have to "identify additional resources" for the initiatives, which he said centred on educating more young Emiratis and carrying out research relevant to the economy. "This is a very service-orientated plan," he said. "Service to our communities as well as service to the nation."

One source of funding will be outside organisations, which will fund 10 endowed chairs. The university, which last year secured accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a body that accredits degrees at many US universities, will seek international accreditation for more of its departments. "We're quite confident we can do this, but it's something we feel will take quite a lot of work," Dr Johnson said.

Dr Johnson, the former president of the University of Toledo, Ohio, said there would be "a great emphasis" on expanding research through the hiring of additional faculty with strong research records. Academic positions with more time set aside for research would be created, and existing staff would have the chance to compete for these jobs. Currently, Zayed offers bachelor's degrees in subjects such as art and design, international studies, education, information systems and technology management, and business sciences.

There are master's degrees in subjects including finance, international business and health care administration, along with graduate certificates in health care administration and information security.
dbardsley@thenational.ae