Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 June 2019

University of Birmingham Dubai appoints two key senior academic leaders

The university is the first 'top 100' college from the UK to come to the UAE, and will begin taking students from this autumn ahead of the opening of its permanent campus in 2020

University of Birmingham's director of Campus Operations Ben Bailey at Academic City, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
University of Birmingham's director of Campus Operations Ben Bailey at Academic City, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The University of Birmingham Dubai, the first British "top 100" university scheduled to open in the UAE, has appointed two senior academic leaders as it gets ready to open a permanent campus in 2020.

The university has named Professor Glyn Watson as its inaugural provost; Prof Watson, who currently holds the position of interim pro-vice-chancellor and head of the College of Social Sciences at the home campus, will take over the post in April.

Ben Bailey has also been appointed director of campus operations after working as director of student services at the university's UK campus.

The University of Birmingham recently placed 84 in the QS World University Rankings 2018, making it one of the best universities in the world. It also placed 86 for graduate employability.

The employment of two top officials from the main UK campus as lead administrators at the university’s first international branch in Dubai was strictly by design – the University of Birmingham hopes to duplicate its success abroad, said Mr Bailey.

He said: “We will have key leads who are existing University of Birmingham employees, like myself.

“We are going to supplement that by flying in academic staff so people will be taught here by the same people as students in the UK will be taught by, while we also build our in-country academic base.”

The new UAE campus is not a separate entity from the main university, Mr Bailey said. It is being funded and governed by the University of Birmingham.

Prof Watson said: “We want to offer a wide range of subjects for a wide range of disciplines. We expect the subjects, certainly for the first few years, to be exactly the same degree programs that you would get if you were studying at the University of Birmingham.”

Another similarity between the two campuses is their degree certificatation: students who graduate from the University of Birmingham Dubai will be issued certificates from the University of Birmingham.

“It will look exactly the same as those that students in Birmingham get,” said Mr Bailey.

One big difference, however, will be the campus: while the University of Birmingham is a century-old, red brick institution with more than 30,000 students and 350 undergraduate programmes, the Dubai branch will be considerably smaller, with a capacity for about 4,500 students when its permanent new campus opens. But, this in itself will likely be a draw for many students, said Mr Bailey.

“Different types of students are looking for a different kind of experience,” he said.

Until the permanent campus opens, students who enroll at the University of Birmingham Dubai will attend classes at a temporary building in Academic City. Officials said they expect to enroll about 300 students across the four undergraduate and three postgraduate programmes available from September this year.

“We are going to start with some of the subjects we think are likely to have the strongest resonance with people who have a strong career focus,” said Prof Watson. These include business management, computer science, economics and mechanical engineering.

Each full-time programme is three years in length and can be taken with one additional integrated foundation year. Full-time post-graduate courses are being offered in computer science and international business.

Recently, in direct response to the higher education needs of the emirate, the university added a one-year postgraduate certificate of education programme with specialisation in primary education, secondary English, secondary maths or secondary science.


Read more:

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University of Birmingham to open branch campus in Dubai


More courses, including PhD programmes, will be added, said Prof Watson.

“I think for the Dubai campus to be successful, it very much has to feed into broader national agendas and they’re not just teaching agendas, but also research agendas,” said Prof Watson. “That’s the kind of unique selling point of Birmingham coming to Dubai: we will be the first research-intensive Russell Group university with a physical presence in Dubai and, for that to work for us and I think for Dubai, we have to be meshed with the life of Dubai. We have to reflect the priorities of Dubai.”

All students who register by the end of February will be offered a five per cent discount. Scholarships are also available for high-achieving students.

Updated: January 9, 2018 11:13 AM