As the pandemic approaches the 18-month mark, higher education remains one of the coronavirus’ most disrupted sectors. At a time when high school students are making the important decision of which university to attend, choices that were once easy are suddenly a lot less certain. This is particularly pertinent for many of the UAE’s expat student population, who might be considering the US, UK or Canada – countries that are seeing a rise in Delta variant COVID-19 cases, which in turn raises the spectre of lockdowns, the closure of physical campus facilities and travel restrictions.
“The ongoing travel restrictions to the traditional destinations for UAE-based students such as the UK has meant that many are rethinking plans to study abroad,” says Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Middlesex University and Director of Middlesex University Dubai.
Meanwhile, a number of factors have made a strong case for the UAE as an ideal study destination. From a pandemic perspective, the country has managed to keep a lid on its number of positive cases while running a vaccination programme that has seen more than 16.3 million doses delivered to its population, and keeping the economy open. Its universities have been developing their research capabilities, offering internationally recognised degrees as well as ample opportunities for research, innovation and entrepreneurship to students.
To help prospective students learn everything they need to know about studying in the UAE, Gulf News has partnered with some of the country’s leading universities, including Middlesex University Dubai and Heriot-Watt University Dubai, to bring back Edufair. While restrictions made last year’s inaugural event a virtual one, Edufair 2021 will mark the higher education event’s in-person debut when it takes place from August 12-14 at the Shangri-la.
A budding hub for research
With this year’s Expo 2020 Dubai – a globally significant six-month event organisers expect to attract 25 million visitors – focused on sustainability, the UAE’s universities are doing their part to research and develop their own solutions.
For example, students at RIT University Dubai have been developing renewable portfolios based on solar, geothermal and biomass energy. Sustainability is being studied on a number of other fronts at UAE universities too. This is something the country’s government supports, with sustainability a core tenet of UAE Vision 2030.
The UAE’s long-held status as an energy exporter and trading hub has also seen well-funded original research being conducted into oil exploration and smart logistics.
The pandemic has also raised interesting research opportunities over the past year. Scientists at Khalifa University have been collaborating with Birmingham City University and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to develop blockchain-based Covid-19 vaccine passports and immunity certificates.
“The opening up of tourism and Expo 2020 will boost the economy and create more travel opportunities,” says Dr Fernandes.
An innovation centre
“The UAE is an emerging global innovation hub where students are empowered by the latest technologies, attractive employment opportunities, access to investment and the ease of doing business,” explains a Heriot-Watt University Dubai spokesperson.
With a number of universities having spent the past few years cultivating strong relationships with industry, this strategy has borne fruit both for students looking to access the best graduate employment opportunities and budding entrepreneurs seeking funding for their start-up.
The Heriot-Watt spokesperson also points to the UAE’s recent residency law amendments, which now offer outstanding high school and university students – and their families – a ten-year Golden residency visa. This initiative could be a gamechanger, not only for expat students who have grown up in the UAE but also those considering coming here from abroad, as it will incentivise the world’s brightest young talents to set up shop in the country.
The UAE also offers one of the key benefits of a Western degree — international accreditation — at a significantly lower cost.
Universities such as Middlesex, Heriot-Watt and RIT all offer the same degree as their mother campuses — based in London, Edinburgh and New York, respectively — from here in Dubai. Academic standards and excellence are sustained through the sending of papers to senior faculty based at these home campuses for grading and feedback, while students get 24-7 access to the same digital library content as their peers in other cities.
Students can also enjoy an international experience through transferring to their university’s mother campus for a year or two.
When you factor in accommodation (particularly for cities such as London and New York), flights, food and assorted lifestyle expenses, going abroad to study can be an extremely pricey proposition.
Why attend Gulf News Edufair?
You might have a lot of questions about university in Dubai or the wider UAE. From the grades and other admission requirements you need to meet to information about specific programmes and their modules, as well as the cost of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, EduFair is a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about university here.
Prospective students and their families can speak with admissions officers and faculty, discussing their options for different programmes while learning about trends in both higher education and industry, following exchanges with career counsellors.
There are seminars and workshops that discuss the future of higher education in the UAE; employability and skills for tomorrow’s workforce; and career readiness and success.
Our exhibitors are: Middlesex University; Heriot Watt University Dubai; RIT Dubai; Westford University College; Manipal University Dubai; University of Birmingham Dubai; BITS Pilani Dubai; Canadian University Dubai; Curtin University Dubai; Cromwell UK Education; De Montfort University Dubai and the British Council.
Our Platinum Sponsor is UAE University; Styling Partner is SHEIN ; Career-ready Partner is Y-Axis; Counselling Partner is EdOrbis; Radio Partner is Fun Asia; and Supporting Partner is Bukhatir Education Advancement and Management International
Register now on www.gnedufair.com
August 12 -14, 2021, 11am to 8pm
Hotel Shangri-la, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE.