More students investing in higher education
DUBAI, Feb 27, 2013 (Khaleej Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Student numbers at Dubai's universities continue to grow as the higher education sector in the emirate experienced a growth of 11 per cent in 2012.
The number of students enrolled in Dubai's private and public universities reached a record high of 48,058 students, with the figure expected to increase over the next few years.
Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) Director General Dr Abdulla Al Karam, cited the higher education sector would continue to grow because of the sustained demand for school education in the emirate: "We continue to see a growth in the schooling sector, which will sustain the demand for universities. Now is the time for Dubai to position itself as an education destination and we will work with universities to increase the choices while improving the credibility," said Dr Al Karam.
Dubai's dedicated education free zones continue to attract the largest number of foreign varsities with 26 branch campuses providing internationally recognised qualifications.
"The education free zones are experiencing major growth because the branch campuses provide a wide-variety of courses which are not offered by other institutions," added Dr Al Karam.
The statistics were unveiled in the 'Higher Education Landscape' report, released by KHDA on Wednesday. The report noted an increase in the number of courses offered to students as the total number of education providers reached 53.
Dubai's universities are classified into three broad categories -- federal institutions, institutions in the free zones and institutions outside the free zones. Federal institutions predominantly cater to Emirati students and are institutions that were established by a federal decree. Private institutions include universities and branch campuses which are open to all students.
Business studies continue to attract the largest number of students with more than 42 per cent of all students opting for the subject. Media and design courses are the second most popular subject, outnumbering the number of students enrolled in engineering courses.
The annual report shares data about Dubai's universities and higher education institutions, highlighting student enrollment trends and popularity of course offerings.
Interestingly, the number of students opting for doctoral degrees has almost doubled (from 149 to 274 students). Vice-Chancellor of the British University in Dubai (BUiD) Dr Abdullah Al Shamsi attributed the increase as a natural progression: "We have a lot of applications for doctoral programmes and we are working on increasing the number of doctoral courses. The number is still relatively small but we plan to offer new degrees every year," said Dr Al Shamsi.
The report also noted a lack of research culture in varsities as it said, "in order to meet the demands of Dubai's economy, it is important to continue to develop and increase the variety of programmes. University research is an important area that also requires further development in Dubai."
Director of Middlesex University's Dubai campus Raed Amwaleh believes the higher education sector would contribute more to the emirate's economy, if it was positioned better as a regional education hub.
"The next phase of development is to convert Dubai into an education hub for students from the Middle East region. Dubai has not yet been promoted as a higher-education destination (for foreign students), and it will be a collective step for the universities to make it a reality," he said.
The report, while being comprehensive, missed out on providing crucial data about graduate employability and whether graduates from Dubai's private universities were meeting the demands of the employment market.
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