UAE’S education – The academic mobility making it a global education leader

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The United Arab Emirates is largely blooming as a global education hub and it’s quite evident in the numbers. The global education market size in UAE is estimated to increase by USD 718 million. The market’s growth momentum will progress at a CAGR of 5.03 per cent. The adoption of key trends in the education sector right from digitisation of classroom learning to technology-based approach to training in soft skills – UAE is traveling the extra mile to get it all right.

In recent years, the focus has shifted towards pre-schooling or early childhood education which was not a set practice in traditional UAE education. By emphasising the importance of education, the UAE government is reforming all the traditional practices. Almost 93 per cent of the UAE’s population has access to the internet which is making the UAE’s education market robust in the digital education landscape. The pandemic in 2020 also pushed online education to a great extent across the country. The UAE e-learning market is expected to expand to US $7.1 billion in 2023 from less than US $2 million in 2017, according to the UAE Ministry of Economy. The online e-learning segment, along with the virtual classroom segment, holds nearly 70 per cent of the market share in the region. The government is aiming for creating an ecosystem that is inclusive for all and digitisation, online learning, or e-learning can make this happen.

The UAE government is making it bigger and better with various moves to become the global hub for education. India and UAE are all set to sign an MOU in the field of education to facilitate academic collaboration between higher education institutions in both countries to offer twinning, joint degree, and dual degree programmes. The new bilateral pact will promote mutual recognition, enhanced academic participation, and collaboration between countries. Such collaborations will make it speed up their objective to become a global educational hub.

Making it a global education hub

The aim to become a global hub requires rigorous work in the education sector. The Ministry of Education announced a strategy for the span of 2010-2020 with overall objectives to chalk out the major faults in the UAE’s education system. The strategy was aimed at reducing the major dropouts from higher education, ensuring high-quality curriculum, excellent teaching methods, high-quality education accessible to all, a learning environment and tools, and to enhance and uplift the quality, equality, and accessibility to quality education.

Many universities are aiming to set up campuses in the most modern city of UAE – Dubai, and that is not just because of its ultramodernity or its glitz, or its stunning skyline, Dubai has genuinely emerged as a top destination of the world in the recent years. According to a report by CNBC, during 2021-22, 1.64 akh Indian students headed to UAE for higher education. While the number might not be as high as for the USA (4.65 lahks), it is close to Canada’s (1.83 lakhs) and more than Australia’s (1.09 lakh).

Besides being a financial hub, UAE’s leaders are striving for making it a educational hub globally, and a similar vision came out through a two-day conclave named, ‘Schools for the Future’, which was organised by Kyra Global, a company founded in Dubai by veteran Indian publisher KPR Nair, in partnership with The American University in the Emirates (AUE), one of Dubai’s premier universities. During the conclave, Tadu Mamu, Consul (Press Information, Culture and Labour) of the Indian Embassy, said India will be happy to be a partner with the UAE in its efforts to make the Emirates a global educational hub. Last year, an MoU was also signed on the academic front for an enhancement collaboration on global education. There were also talks on establishing India’s premium higher education institute IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) in Dubai.

The latest reforms to empower the future generation

UAE is striving to become a knowledge economy, despite having a humongous economy through its oil resources. The reforms in education will make the students think, question, and make the technological leap that is much required when everything is driven by technology. Sara Al Amiri, who guided the UAE’s space and Mars missions, was made Minister of State for Public Education and Future Technology to assist the sector on the technological edge. The responsibilities of the Ministry of Education will include developing policies, strategies, and legislation, as per the new structure.

The reformed national curriculum will include the Arabic language, Islamic education, moral education, and social studies while the international curriculum will include mathematics, science, and others.

The government is eager to make the education system bigger and better. Early childhood development is the key focus of the government, and they have also announced free early education for Emirati students. The government is also emphasising quality education with zero tuition fees for enhancing accessibility and equality for all. With these reforms, a new template for education is being laid for UAE and from now, it will keep moving towards a growing pace.

The buzz in UAE’s education

The latest trends are driving each and every industry, and technology is the only catalyst. With the emergence of technology, the education ecosystem has taken a newer shape across the world. UAE is leading the way towards the adoption in a much faster way and is all set to revamp the trends as per the adoption of technology.

Trends in higher education- As education is at the cusp of massive transformation, the higher education segment is poised to get the most attention. A few of the trends that get much traction during the transactional phase are:

  • Skill-based and experienced learning for all
  • Synchronous and blended learning
  • Personalisation and digitisation of learning
  • Integration of the curriculum with occupational certificates

Digitisation – The UAE’s rapid advancement of modern technologies and educational trends has increased the value of education. The way that general education is taught and how learning courses are provided, both have been substantially changed by e-learning. The digitisation of education transformed the walls of the classroom, and teaching is now more learner-centric with various technology tools.

School education – Parents are choosing to focus more on soft skills and voted for a grand focus on STEM subjects in classrooms and curriculum. Another trend that erupted in recent times in school education is an enhanced emphasis on mental health concerns. According to a report by Fortune, three out of five (60 per cent) students suffer from mental health issues across the world. The issues vary from depression to anxiety and it is disheartening that only 48 per cent of them got diagnosed properly and got treatment. So, schools and higher institutions need to focus majorly on mental health issues.

Hybrid learning, learner-centric approach to teaching, computerised-based learning, and technology-based approaches are the newest trends transforming the school education system throughout.

The major market holding in education

The UAE’s education market is currently expanding globally. This suggests that the market under consideration is characterised by rising student enrollments, a growing interest in education sector privatisation, and support for government efforts. The global education market size in UAE is estimated to increase by $718 million. The market’s growth momentum will progress at a CAGR of 5.03 per cent. Also, UAE Private K12 Education Market is poised to grow at a CAGR of 5 per cent by 2027.

Over 2,84,000 students enrolled in private secondary schools last year. In order to increase the enrollment of new students, many private institutions give discounts to encourage students. The Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai also restricted the rise of tuition fees, during the academic year 2022-23. Such encouragement from the government is enhancing the growth and pace of the education industry in the UAE.

As per PWC: education sector in the Middle East report, the quality of the UAE’s primary and higher education systems ranks among the top 20 globally. UAE has some of the best educational institutions both in the higher and school education segments. It is reported that the annual revenue being generated by schools in Dubai is AED 8.45 billion and Dubai hosts over 60 globally respected international university campuses – the largest number anywhere in the world.


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