The vision to transform Dubai into a higher education hub was set about a decade ago. We built the three free zones—Dubai Internet city, Dubai Media city and Dubai knowledge village.
“We segregated knowledge into two categories: 1. A hub where development and empowerment of human resource took place - the Dubai Knowledge Village (DKV), and 2. A higher education zone primarily to host national and international institutions- the Dubai International Academic City (DIAC)
“We conceptualised DKV as a regional destination for education and invited institutes of higher learning, assessment centres and professional training academies to set up their campuses here. DKV provides services to even regions like East Africa and India. It houses over 500 training institutes, executive search firms and HR consultancies, and educational services providers.
“Of the world’s 200 international branch campuses, the highest number, 37 are in the UAE. 25 of these are in Dubai under the DIAC umbrella. We started with 2000 students and now we have 22,000 students of 120 different nationalities pursuing higher studies here.
“We constantly try to attract world class institutions to uplift our education standard.We encourage institutions to design programmes to cater to our diverse regional market. We have about 400 programmes at the under graduate, post graduate and doctoral level.
“Boston, which hosts over 70 multi-tiered universities, is our role model. It is a vibrant hub where universities catering to masses rub shoulders with the classy Ivy League institutions. We are in the process of building a similar edu-ecosystem, where institutions from USA, UK, Australia, Canada and our next door neighbours like India, will co-exist, and where a diverse students community with intellectual capacities will grow together. While Boston is all American, we have gone global- 21 of our 25 universities are international. Four to five of these are Indian. They are next door neighbours to allow a free flow of culture and learning.
“We focus on student and faculty exchange, curriculum development programmes, research and development collaboration; sharing of facilities and staff. The latter to give the staff an international exposure.
“Foreign universities wanting to come here have to comply with certain rules. Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the governing body, has established the University Quality Assurance International Board to assess and license institutes. KHDA also attests degree/ diploma certificates thereby making it possible for students to get jobs easily. Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA), which is a federal body , also issues accreditation to universities.
“DIAC has evolved a 34-pont criteria for the assessment of institutions. National and international ranking of an institution, quality of its programmes, research expertise and its ability to respond to the needs of the region, are a few of them. Only about 20 universities have got permission during the past five years.
“Oil and gas form only five per cent of our GDP. So we are focussing on human resource development. Our government has selected 12 sunshine sectors that could contribute to the economy of the country and the region. These include transportation and logistics, construction and real estate, tourism and hospitality, aviation, fashion, media, oil and gas, public health, renewable and nuclear energy and education. We are encouraging universities to weave fitting courses to create the right human capital to support these industries. Courses in solar and nuclear energy, energy management as well as transportation and logistics are increasingly becoming popular. ”