UAE | Education

Fall in college shutdowns due to market saturation

According to the CAA what qualifies as an academic institution are full-fledged universities as well as small colleges or institutions offering over one-year educational courses.

  • By Rania Moussly, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:57 February 22, 2011

Dubai: The number of academic institutions being shut down due to falling below international standards has drastically decreased over the past decade, reports the UAE’s Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA).

Professor M. Badr Abou Ela, Director of CAA at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR) said the decline was caused by the saturation of the UAE’s higher education market.

His statement comes amidst recent reports of five cases of university programmes being sent back to the drawing board by the CAA for re-evaluation.

The university programmes in question are: Ajman’s Gulf Medical University’s physical therapy degree programme; Ajman University of Science and Technology’s Bachelor’s degree in information studies; a Master’s in software engineering at Al Hosn University in Abu Dhabi; a Master’s in business administration at the New York Institute of Technology; and the University of Dubai, which had six professional certificates rejected by the CAA last year.

“In the last two years we have had zero rejections in terms of the establishment of new academic institutions,” said Professor Abou Ela. “The market is saturated and fewer institutions are applying for accreditation; the number of new institutes is no longer growing rapidly like in the early 2000s and this has lead to fewer rejections.”

However, of the 500 programmes on offer at UAE institutions, Professor Abou Ela reported a slight increase in the number under audit from last year.

“From 2005 to 2009 we had on average 50 programmes under review, prior to that period there were 25,” he said. “We’ve had an increase of 10 programmes this year compared to last year.”

He added that the increase of progammes under audit is due to the return of certain programmes as part of a five-year full or reaccredidation CAA process requirement.

Professor Abou Ela believes that the auditing of 10 per cent of total number of programmes on offer across the country is not something to dwell on.

According to the CAA what qualifies as an academic institution are full-fledged universities as well as small colleges or institutions offering over one-year educational courses.

He added the decline could also be because UAE institutions have matured in terms of their approach to course offerings.

“Institutions are maturing as the years go by, they seem to be learning from their mistakes and avoiding mistakes that lead to fewer programme rejection numbers.”

He added that institutions are now focused on working together with the CAA to meet its requirements set by international accreditation bodies.

“Those who hoped to offer substandard educations have been filtered out.”
Yet, the CAA has seen an increase in the number of post graduate programmes on offer in the UAE. “This is due to an increasing number of students graduating from undergraduate education and looking to continue onto postgraduate education,” said Prof Abou Ela.

There are 92,000 students enrolled in the UAE’s 71 federal and private registered institutions, which translates into two per cent of the UAE’s population.

Quick facts:

- 92,000 students enrolled in academic institutions across the UAE

- 500 programmes on offer at 71 CAA and Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR) registered institutions

- 68 private or free zone CAA and MOHESR registered academic institutions

- 3 federal CAA and MOHESR registered academic institutions

- One-third of the students enrolled at academic institutions study business administration

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