UAE. An analysis of student enrolment patterns into higher education institutions in the UAE reveals a chronic trend with the highest registrations in business studies programmes, significantly lower admissions in engineering and technology-related programmes, and almost negligible enrolment in basic science programmes, according to Professor Badr Aboul-Ela, Director, Commission for Academic Accreditation, UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
He added: “Private universities and colleges play a significant role in providing programmes of high priority to the community.”
Professor Aboul-Ela’s comments came during a panel discussion on higher education trends at the Education Forum organised by Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), a member of TECOM Investments’ Education Cluster.
Held on 28 March, the event focused on factors impacting higher education including regional and global geopolitical challenges, student mobility and impact of technology.
Professor Raed Awamleh, Vice-Chancellor and Director, Middlesex University Dubai; Professor Ghassan Aouad, President, University of Wollongong in Dubai, and Chadi Moujaes, Vice-President, Booz & Company also headlined the discussion. Francis Matthew, Editor-at-Large, Gulf News, moderated the session.
Professor Badr Aboul-Ela added: “Low numbers of students eligible to pursue engineering and technology studies and the reluctance of several private for-profit institutions to offer programmes that require high capital investment compound the current problem. Industry and the community must play a significant role through their representatives in universities’ boards and advisory councils for the establishment and continuous development of educational programmes.”
Professor Ghassan Aouad said: “The global higher education landscape is facing key challenges because of the economic downturn and changes in the external drivers including demographics, students and staff recruitment, as well as the emergence of new markets that are now competing with traditionally well-established higher education systems. We can expect a shift in the current trend that works to the benefit of the UAE and the region.”
Professor Raed Awamleh said: “Higher education in the region is witnessing exciting times of growth and development, backed by efforts to build human capital and attract talent from abroad for the purposes of research and training. The trend will rise in the years to come.
“However, quality remains an area of focus – particularly in the area of implementation. One needs to understand here that quality is a not a noun but a verb. It is reflected in action and continuously judged by students, employers and major stakeholders.”
Chadi Moujaes, Vice-President, Booz & Company, said: “Higher education institutions in the region face the dual challenge of achieving education excellence and stepping-up their R&D and innovation activities. Education providers need to align the competencies of their graduates with the requirements of the marketplace and build better linkages with industry to foster innovation.”
The discussion also examined other crucial concerns such as impact of technological advances, easy availability of sometimes inaccurate or incomplete information, misguided focus on content and volatility in career choices.
DIAC Education Forum is a bi-annual event that brings together delegates from key educational institutions and government departments, as well as representatives from leading universities, faculty members and private sector professionals. The event provides a platform for networking and knowledge exchange amongst key stakeholders of the academic sector while contributing to the creation of a knowledge-based economy in the UAE and the region.
Dubai International Academic City, part of the Education Cluster of TECOM Investments, hosts 27 higher education institutions from 11 different countries that include universities offering online, as well as traditional campus education and blended learning programmes.
Students at DIAC have access to over 300 higher education programmes including undergraduate and post-graduate disciplines in engineering, IT, media, business, fashion design, healthcare and mass communications.
About Dubai International Academic City:
Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) is the world’s only Free Zone dedicated to Higher Education. Established in 2007 as part of TECOM Investments, DIAC aims to develop the region’s talent pool and establish the UAE as a knowledge-based economy.
DIAC is the premier destination for Higher Education in the region, located on a fully-appointed 18 million sq ft. campus with state-of-the-art modern facilities. DIAC currently has 27 Academic institutions from 11 countries.
he DIAC campus is host to nearly 20,000 students from 137 nationalities. DIAC students also have access to over 300 Higher Education programmes.
DIAC Phase III achieved a “Green” status and was awarded Silver LEED certification. DIAC provides an established educational environment for academic institutions and caters to students from around the world.
DIAC is also ranked top 10 in the Middle East under “Best Transportation” category and top 25 in the Middle East under “Best Overall” category according to 2011 Financial Times Rankings.
Photo: Chadi Moujaes, Vice-President, Booz & Company.