How the UK is strengthening educational ties with the UAE

Studying abroad can be an eye-opening experience for students interested in getting out of their comfort zone

Higher education is internationalising. Universities across the world are increasingly interconnected by the exchange of resources, knowledge and people. Emerging ties include research initiatives, strategic partnerships, study abroad programmes, and even the opening of new international campuses. More and more UK higher education institutions are embracing internationalisation and bolstering their roster of global connections.

In particular, the UK’s educational ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are becoming increasingly prevalent. The UAE is a country that has some of the top universities in the Persian Gulf region. Apart from its location with sun, sea and sandy beaches, the UAE is developing as a hub for high-quality learning. As educational ties strengthen between the UK and UAE, we take a closer look at the relationship because it is an important one for university staff and educators to understand more fully.

UK links

The UK already has strong links with the UAE, with both the University of Middlesex (UoM) and Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University (HWU) involved.

UoM has established a campus in Dubai and offers several undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. The university also offers several short professional courses, expanding their curriculum for a broad range of prospective attendees.

HWU is an international institution with campuses in the UK, Malaysia and the UAE. Its campus in Dubai offers a range of courses, from entry level qualifications all the way to PhD programmes. It has implicated a “Go Global” student programme that allows enrolees to take part in “Inter-Campus Transfers”.

Study abroad programmes can be an eye-opening experience for students interested in getting out of their comfort zone. It exposes them to new cultures, people, places and educational approaches, providing a spectrum of valuable learning experiences and opportunities for both personal and professional development.

Quality assurance

University educators or staff must consider the reputation and recognition of partner institutions when advising their students or even colleagues.

For instance, when sending students abroad, they need to understand how a degree or qualification translates in relation universal UK standards. Fortunately, in the UAE, there is a keen understanding of the need for quality control of courses and the overall student experience both in terms of pastoral care and leisure options. The UAE’s Ministry of Education is currently partnering with the UK’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). As an independent body, the QAA aims to safeguard standards and improve the quality of higher education in the UK. It is also responsible for quality wherever higher education is delivered anywhere in the world.

University representatives must be certain that their students or colleagues that embark on international exchanges or initiatives do so in line with the accepted standards here in the UK.  But with the UAE working closely with the QAA, you should be reassured that the quality of educational ties is taken very seriously.

Incoming international students

The educational relationship between the UK and UAE is reciprocal. In fact, the majority of UAE students that elect to study at universities in other countries choose the UK.

University professionals should be aware of this connection because international students are a crucial component of most modern higher education institutions. The UK has an unrivalled international reputation for high-quality education, and there are many students from other countries who are keen to study here. Making links by establishing partnerships or exchange programmes further facilitates this international exchange, an academically and culturally beneficial arrangement for all involved.

Financial options

For those taking part in the internationalisation of higher education, reliable access to finances is a major consideration. Students and staff that travel abroad must clearly understand how they will fund their endeavours, incorporating the nuances of the local financial systems at the same time. Of course, this depends on a range of individual circumstances like the destination, embassy fees, healthcare costs, institutional or governmental funding and a host of other aspects.

When you are researching the financial context in the UAE, look at these factors, but also consider how those that embark on international exchanges need to send their money across the globe. Exchange rates are flexible, and when you are transferring large amounts – say, for tuition fees or accommodation payments – you should always check the exchange rate from the UK to the United Arab Emirates to get the best possible deal.

A new beginning?

The educational ties between the UK and UAE are strengthening, and there is great potential in this developing relationship for those in higher education. But remember, any students or staff that explore connections with the UAE will enjoy the benefits of support from their Ministry of Education, strict quality control agreements, and a burgeoning community of international institutions that offer high quality learning environments for those that engage with them.