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Dubai International Academic City Registers Surge in Student Numbers amid Rising Global Demand for Transnational Education

  • Student enrolment increases over 7% in 2018/2019
  • 94 new university degrees added across DIAC universities
  • 40% increase in UAE nationals at DIAC universities

Dubai-UAE: 5th November, 2018 The number of students at Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), the largest community dedicated to higher education in the Middle East, has witnessed a surge of new students in 2018/2019 as a total of 27,500 students have registered for the new academic year, marking a jump of over seven per cent over the previous year.

The increase is especially significant considering the latest trends in the global education market.diac-admission

According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S., which is widely perceived as a leading higher education destination, experienced a drop in transnational student numbers with 17 per cent fewer visas been issued. That is a 40 per cent drop against its 2015 peak. India and China have taken the biggest losses with a 28 per cent drop in visas for Indian students and 24 per cent, respectively, for Chinese students.

In contrast to these US trends, DIAC universities have reported an increase of 106 per cent for Chinese students and a five per cent increase in Indian students that are currently registered across DIAC’s 27 universities.  South Korean students registered the highest increase in student numbers with an increase of 161 per cent, while the volume of students from Saudi Arabia grew by 65 per cent. In addition, the population of UAE nationals registered a 40 per cent spike, suggesting in increase in the number of students preferring to study at home rather than travelling abroad for higher education.

To further amplify this trend of international student growth, the UAE has taken a more proactive stance in attracting transnational students from these regions amid the growing political uncertainties across traditionally popular education hubs such as the U.S. and the UK. The introduction of new visa regulations and recent agreements between China and the UAE such as the accreditation of Dubai’s universities in China, have enabled greater levels of collaboration between the two countries and are expected to further increase the number of transnational students wishing to study in the UAE.

The UAE has also recently replaced the one-year student visas with five-year visas and, in case of exceptional students, up to 10-year visas, acknowledging the nation’s focus on attracting and retaining professional and skilled talent.  This regulatory change is set to make it easier for students to secure both long-term residence and employment within the country, allowing students to better plan for their future following graduation and increasing the development of home-grown talent within the region.

In keeping up with the growing demand from various industries and the increased number of students travelling to the region for higher education; DIAC universities have identified industry needs and have introduced an array of programmes to support these requirements by extending the number of degrees offered to a total of 512 for the academic year ahead, including 239 bachelor degrees, 249 master degrees and 24 doctorate programmes.

“As we experience a global shift in the education landscape, we find ourselves uniquely positioned to take a more central role in attracting transnational students to the UAE,” said Mohammad Abdullah, Managing Director of DIAC and Dubai Knowledge Park. “With the implementation of new visa regulations for students, aimed at retaining the brightest talent and supporting graduate seeking employment in the UAE, we see the trend of increased student enrolment poised to continue in the years ahead.”

DIAC’s community of affiliated institutions continues to grow with the University of Birmingham, which began its first academic year offering degree programmes a member of the UK’s Top 100 Russell Group, joining in late 2017. This top-ranked university has announced a new BSc in Accounting and Finance; BSc in Money, Banking and Finance and Masters in LLM, International Commercial Law.

Speaking on the academic year ahead, Professor Glyn Watson, Provost of the University of Birmingham Dubai, said “Extensive research has allowed us to identify an academic proposition which balances known areas of strong demand with emerging gaps in supply. At the University of Birmingham Dubai, students embarking upon their education journey will enjoy the highest quality academic experience to stretch and challenge them, whilst gaining the skills that will help them to stand out in a competitive, global employment market. Our students from diverse backgrounds will be taught by outstanding academics; experts in their fields who are shaping policy, influencing society, and changing lives around the globe. We are excited to welcome them to our university, which counts 11 Nobel Prize winners among its former staff and students.”

Additional degrees were announced by other DIAC universities, including Middlesex University Dubai which launched a BA in Business Management (Innovation) and an MBA in Islamic Economy. Curtin University Dubai launched a BA in Digital Design and Amity University introduced a new BA in Tourism Administration and a BA in Film & Television Production.

Professor Ammar Kaka, Provost and Vice-Principal, Heriot-Watt University Dubai, said: “For the academic year ahead, we have added a range of new programmes to our portfolio and welcomed a growing number of students to our community. Our utmost priority was to align with the government’s ambitions in driving strategically important sectors. Heriot-Watt University Dubai has thus launched several new programmes including a BSc- and MSc in Artificial Intelligence, MSc in Investment Management and a new MSc in International Fashion Marketing, all promising sectors in the UAE.”

Professor Abdullah Alshamsi, Vice-Chancellor, The British University of Dubai, remarked, “The British University in Dubai decided to launch new undergraduate programmes in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Software Engineering and Business Management in line with the requirements of the local market. We have received excellent responses to most of our new undergraduate, as well as postgraduate and Ph.D., programmes as they were perceived of high relevance for the future of global economies. We look forward to another successful academic year 2018/2019.”

DIAC universities witnessed an increase in the number of STEM degrees, with a total of 142 degrees offered in the fields of Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The increase in demand for STEM programmes is in line with global trends where employment in STEM occupations grew at a much faster rate than employment in non-STEM occupations over the last decade (24.4 percent versus 4.0 percent, respectively), and STEM workers having salaries that are 29% higher than non-STEM counterparts according to the US Department of Commerce.

With globalisation transforming the education landscape; these degrees from DIAC universities link to global industry demands and cater to the growing international student market. With a clear shift towards preference in a choice of education hubs from traditional to emerging markets such as the UAE, international students are now able to explore quality International Branch Campuses outside their home countries.


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