Higher education in the UAE

The education system of the United Arab Emirates consists of public and private education. There are more than 100 universities in the UAE: three of them are public (Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) and Zayed University (ZU), 64 are accredited by the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) . In 2021, a bachelor’s degree in the Emirates, 21,804 people received it, of which 8,556 are international students.A

Russian graduate can enter the state universities of the UAE and receive a free education only if he or his mother has UAE citizenship.So

how can applicants from Russia enter a private university UAE In this article we answer the most common questions.

Which universities accept Russians? Is it possible to enter the universities of the UAE after 11 classes of a Russian school? Is it possible to transfer from a Russian university?

Applicants from Russia are considered by the admission committees of private universities in the UAE in the same way as other international candidates. The selective process in private universities in the UAE is distinguished by its transparency and independence from the global political environment.

The UAE has a large selection of higher education institutions. Local universities are divided into national, with training in Arabic or English, as well as international branches of American, British, Canadian, European, Australian universities. Depending on the “country of origin of the university”, the entrance requirements also vary.

The admission rules are the same as in other countries: in Canadian and American – after grade 11 you can immediately enter the bachelor’s degree, and in Australian and British – only through diploma (Diploma) or preparatory (Foundation) programs. At the end of the Foundation, the student moves to the first year, after the diploma program, which is the first year of the bachelor’s degree adapted for foreign students, to the second year.

An alternative option for entering a bachelor’s degree is to complete the first year at a Russian university with subsequent transfer to universities in the UAE. However, it is worth remembering that the transfer of subjects is carried out on an individual basis, so it is possible that, based on the results of studying the documents, the student will be recommended a preparatory program. It should also be taken into account that such a transfer is possible if there are free places at the chosen university. Many universities in the UAE can ask an applicant to legalize a document on courses already taken outside the Emirates (this can be done both in Russia and in the UAE after obtaining a student visa).

What are the entrance requirements for applicants from Russia by the admission committees of the UAE universities (bachelor’s, master’s)?

Entry requirements vary and depend on the chosen university and specialty. For example, to enter the Foundation program at the University of Birmingham in Dubai (part of the Russell group), you must have 4/5 in the certificate, pass the IELTS exam (at least 5.5 in each indicator) or its equivalent. At the same time, for admission to the undergraduate program at Heriott-Watt University, it is required to have a 5/5 in the certificate and not less than 6.0 points for IELTS. A special role in admission is played by what system of education the applicant used to study and whether he needs to take, for example, Foundation.

As for admission to the magistracy, there will also be different requirements for applicants. In general, for admission to academic programs of study, it is necessary to have a completed bachelor’s degree with high marks in the diploma, which must be related to the chosen direction of the master’s program. However, some universities can enter certain programs with a non-core diploma.

For admission to undergraduate studies at most universities, the following package of documents is required:

  1. Official language certificate: IELTS, TOEFL, EmSAT, PTE Academic, issued no earlier than 2 years before the expected start date of study at a UAE university;
  2. Certificate of complete secondary education. It may be necessary to certify it at the Ministry of Justice of the UAE, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the UAE, at the UAE Embassy located in the country from which the applicant came (in addition to a notarized translation of the certificate into English, consular legalization of the document will be required);
  3. Official transcript of grades from high school for the last 3 years of study (when submitting documents before receiving a certificate);
  4. Application form with personal information;
  5. In rare cases, a certificate from a school or an additional education center confirming the candidate’s study in English of 6 subjects from the categories of mathematical, natural, social sciences, as well as foreign languages. If an applicant from Russia fails to pass these 6 disciplines either at school or at additional education centers, private universities in the UAE will provide them with the opportunity to study on the Foundation program.

For admission to the master’s program, you must provide:

  1. Official language certificate: IELTS, TOEFL, EmSAT, PTE Academic, issued no earlier than 2 years before the expected start date of study at a UAE university;
  2. Diploma of higher education (with notarized translation);
  3. Application form with personal information;
  4. Certificate with GMAT / GRE test results (on selective programs);
  5. The official transcript of grades for the last 3 years of study is the student’s study card (when submitting documents before receiving a diploma).

As a rule, universities do not conduct internal entrance exams, but it should be borne in mind that when applying for technical and economic specialties, you may be asked to provide the results of additional testing in mathematics, and when applying for creative specialties (architecture, design), the university may request a portfolio with examples of work.

Before applying to a particular university in the UAE, it is important to study the courses and the main teaching language of the faculty. There are cases when a student enters an English-language program, but it contains compulsory courses in Arabic (for example, at Khalifa University). Please note that some faculties are only open to UAE citizens.

To transfer from a Russian university, you will need:

  1. Application form with personal information filled out on a special website;
  2. Certificate indicating the level of English proficiency: IELTS, TOEFL, EmSAT, PTE Academic (issued no earlier than 2 years before the expected start date of study in the UAE);
  3. Academic certificate translated into English and, if necessary, certified by a notary and legalized at the UAE Embassy;
  4. Certificate of absence of absenteeism, disciplinary violations and deductions for the entire period of study at a Russian university;
  5. Evidence of successful completion of two semesters or one full academic year (with a grade point average of at least a 4, B, or equivalent) may need to be legalized.
Are there strict submission deadlines?

As a rule, it is possible to start studying at universities in the UAE from January, May or September. The process of admission and obtaining a visa takes 3-4 months, so it is recommended to submit documents no later than six months before the start of training. The university acts as a guarantor for the visa, so it takes from 2 to 6 weeks to obtain it.

Some admissions committees complete the acceptance of applications a month before the start of training, even if they still have vacancies.

You can apply for a visa both from Russia and to the UAE, in this case, the entry to the Emirates occurs for tourism purposes, and while already in the UAE, the student applies for a student visa.

How much does it cost to study and live in the UAE? What budget should applicants from Russia expect to apply to universities in the UAE? Are there scholarships?

Dubai is one of the most expensive cities in the world. The main currency of the UAE is dirhams (AED – Arab Emirate Dirham, the current exchange rate against the dollar is $ 1 = 3.67 AED (as of May 30, 2022)).

The cost of studying in the UAE varies greatly depending on the university, its location, the level of study in it and the chosen faculty. For example, in Dubai, tuition fees for undergraduate programs range from AED 37,500 to AED 70,000 per year. There are universities that balance the cost at the head office and at their campus in the UAE (INSEAD, for example), and some universities significantly reduce the cost for the UAE (for example, Middlesex Uni). There are scholarships for foreign students in UAE universities, usually small – about 20-30%, in rare cases, a 50% discount is provided for master’s programs. Some scholarships are for students with high academic performance (Zayed University – International Undergraduate Merit Scholarship; Khalifa University – President International Scholarship; United Arab Emirates University – International Undergraduate Scholarships; University of Dubai – International Scholarship in UAE), others are aimed at a certain category of students or professional areas (Canadian University Dubai – Financial Hardship Scholarships; Curtin University Dubai – Women in Engineering Grant for International Students). Recently, the UAE government has been generously distributing grants. By the way, not all scholarships need to be applied for; many universities consider candidates in an “automatic mode”. Students with high academic performance can also count on financial support from the educational institution and free educational trips. others are aimed at a certain category of students or professional areas (Canadian University Dubai – Financial Hardship Scholarships; Curtin University Dubai – Women in Engineering Grant for International Students). Recently, the UAE government has been generously distributing grants. By the way, not all scholarships need to be applied for; many universities consider candidates in an “automatic mode”. Students with high academic performance can also count on financial support from the educational institution and free educational trips. others are aimed at a certain category of students or professional areas (Canadian University Dubai – Financial Hardship Scholarships; Curtin University Dubai – Women in Engineering Grant for International Students). Recently, the UAE government has been generously distributing grants. By the way, not all scholarships need to be applied for; many universities consider candidates in an “automatic mode”. Students with high academic performance can also count on financial support from the educational institution and free educational trips.

For accommodation, food and transportation, you should lay down another about 4,000 AED per month (the lowest possible amount if you save on everything). If it’s not much to save, then, for example, about 3,406 AED per month is spent on living in Dubai without renting a house. Utilities (DEWA bill) averages AED 608 for an 80 sqm apartment, home internet and TV packages range from AED 299 to AED 2,999, and mobile phone bills range from AED 125 to AED 500+. A monthly pass for public transport will cost 300 AED, and one short visit to the doctor will cost approximately 261 AED. By the way, the cost of a visa is quite high – about $1,100, and if you plan to receive it upon arrival in the UAE, then add another $115.

Renting a one-room apartment in the center of Dubai will cost an average of 5,431 AED per month, housing outside the center costs 1.5 times cheaper – about 3,642 AED. Students can save a lot if they find the opportunity to live in a university hostel. A standard basket of groceries (milk, eggs, bread, water, yogurt, cheese, fish/meat, vegetables and fruit) can be valued at an average of 166 AED. In total, living in Dubai will require approximately 8,000 AED, or $2,180.

How are things going with student internships and employment of graduates?

Almost all programs include an internship/practical segment that helps students develop their professional skills and set the stage for their future job search. Universities have career counseling centers where students are taught how to write resumes and pass interviews. In addition, universities provide access to their partner network in order to send out resumes for finding a part-time job or internship.

Universities in the UAE are actively adopting Western practices related to the employment of students: they open departments of companies (Saudi Aramco, DP World, ADCB Group) on the basis of educational institutions, and regularly hold joint events with employers.

Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi (top of the QS World University Rankings 2022), organizes case championships 2 times a semester together with major companies in the Middle East such as Emirates. Corporations closely monitor the development of students and after such events invite them to internships. The same Emirates annually selects 3 of the most talented senior students of Khalifa University for each of its 8 areas: programming, cybersecurity, development of mobile offers or mobile games, artificial intelligence, designing drones, designing electronic systems for aircraft and working with renewable energy sources.

Another equally well-known educational institution in the UAE, the American University in Dubai, adds regular classes with managers of employing companies (for example, Emirates NBD, Etisalat Group) to the curriculum of each faculty. In addition, a student of each faculty must undergo an internship in their field without fail. For this he receives 3 academic credits. The minimum duration of an internship is 225 working hours, i.e. approximately 6 full working weeks.

By the way, students in the UAE can work while studying, but not more than 6 hours a day. Dubai has a very developed tourism sector, so students often take summer internships at hotels, major travel companies, restaurants, or conduct university campus tours.

As for employment, the largest companies in the Middle East have contracts for a certain number of graduates to replenish the staff. For example, Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest fuel company in terms of turnover, which held the largest IPO in history (about $ 2 trillion), every year hires 15 of the strongest students of the Energy Faculty of Khalifa University. Similar practices exist in EMAAR Group, ALDAR (the largest real estate players) and ADNOC (retail).

The labor market in the UAE is in a stable state. After graduating from universities, graduates can easily get a job both in the UAE and in other countries.

Universities in the UAE appear little in the rankings – does this mean that the quality of teaching in them does not meet international standards?

Despite the fact that UAE universities are not represented in the top global university rankings, they are considered among the best among the higher educational institutions of the Arab world and are not inferior to many European ones in terms of the quality of education.

The British ranking publication Times Higher Education (THE) this year placed Khalifa University, United Arab Emirates University, University of Sharjah and American University of Sharjah in the top 30 universities in the Arab region. The same 4 universities are recognized as the country’s leading universities according to another authoritative ranking – QS World University Rankings 2022, in which Khalifa University ranks 183rd.

The dynamics of promotion of UAE universities in international rankings suggests that this Arab country will reach a prominent position in the near future. This trend is primarily due to the fact that the vast majority of professors and teachers at the universities of the Emirates are invited experts from the UK, USA, Germany, France and Switzerland.

There are many branches of well-known ranking universities in the UAE: Birmingham, New York, Murdoch Universities, Sorbonne. For students, this is a unique opportunity to get a prestigious Western education for less money, since the cost of studying in the UAE is always at least 15% lower than on the main campus of a foreign university.

Which UAE universities and specialties are the most popular among Russians?

Among more than 100 universities in the UAE, the most popular branches of world-famous universities are:

  • Paris Sorbonne University (France, teaching in French)
  • New York University (USA)
  • Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health (UK)
  • University of Washington (USA)
  • Boston University (USA)
  • Heriot-Watt University (UK)
  • Middlesex University (UK)
  • INSEAD (France)
  • London Business school (UK)

Equally strong private universities, organized for the most part according to the American or British education system and inviting foreign professors, as well as providing double diplomas and interesting internships:

  • American University of Sharjah
  • American University in Dubai
  • University of Sharjah
  • Ajman University of Science and Technology
  • Abu Dhabi University
  • Al Hosn University
  • MASDAR Institute of Science & Technology

This is the list of study programs in well-known universities in the UAE, which are most often chosen by applicants from Russia:

  • Heriot-Watt Dubai Campus – oil refining, construction, architecture;
  • Murdoch University – business and humanitarian programs;
  • Sorbonne University – arts, humanities and natural sciences, management, law, economics;
  • Higher Colleges of Technology – medicine, media business, IT, entrepreneurship, pedagogy;
  • Middlesex University – exact sciences, business and law;
  • Zayed University – arts, entrepreneurship, communications and media business, pedagogy, IT;
  • Ajman University of Science and Technology – medicine, engineering, construction;
  • London Business School – Entrepreneurship and Management.

Recently, there has been an increased interest of applicants in The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM) – the first and only hospitality management university in the Middle East. The university is part of the Jumeirah Group and Dubai Holding, which own the well-known hotel brands Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Residence. This collaboration gives students the opportunity to complete internships at these hotels during and after their university program and, if they wish, to get a job after graduation.

Editorial Forbes Education thanks for their help in preparing the material:

Alexey Gorulev, Head of Linguatrip.com Sales Department
Evgeny Linev, EdEra Academy co-founder
Vyacheslav Lychagin, General Director of the Global Dialog agency
Fiona Mackenzie head of Carfax Education Group
Sofia Sazykina, CEO of SSA Education
Victoria Sidorov, manager of education abroad Students International
Alexander Taratutu, co-founder of EdEra Academy.

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