The tertiary sector in Dubai is comprised of International Branch Campuses (IBCs) as well as local universities funded by the federal government. The UAE itself has the highest number of International Branch Campuses of any country in the world, with nearly 40 in the UAE out of over 220 worldwide. The UAE is growing as an education hub, with many international higher education institutions setting up here, catering to transnational students from across the world. The increase in transnational students can be attributed to the rise in educational tourism, placing the UAE as a global tourist destination and focus of international attention. With Dubai expecting a growth in tourist numbers at 7-9% annually, the rise of educational tourism towards emerging markets will play a big part in this shift.
One of the major attributes contributing to Dubai being an education hub is the growth of IBCs, which are educational institutions established in a country outside of the one where the university’s home campus exists.
From 2012 to 2014, the number of countries hosting IBCs increased by 40%. This is testament to the success of the education hub model, which provides an environment for IBCs that enables the sharing of knowledge and expertise with a wide variety of institutions from around the world and enables students to attend an international university without being constrained by geographical boundaries.
Dubai itself continues to attract more transnational students, by providing a wide enough range of courses, relevant to student requirements, and also providing transnational students with employment opportunities post-graduation.