The University of Dubai (UD) has ambitious plans to become a heavyweight player in the higher education sector in coming years. Construction will soon begin on a three million square foot piece of land in Dubai International Academic City after Dh200 million in funding was approved for the construction of a new campus in July. "Our vision is to look forward to being the leading university in town, in terms of quality of education," said UD president Dr Omar Hefni.
"His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, granted us the piece of land and he chose the design for the campus. We are almost ready to start with the construction within the next two months," he said.
The campus will be completed in 2012 and the university has further plans to provide faculty and student housing. UD functions under the auspices of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In 2006 its name was changed from Dubai University College to UD.
Hefni said the coeducation institution aims to attract a select batch of quality students. UD does not plan on exceeding 4,000 students in the next 10 years. "We want a small batch of top-notch students, which will make us elite in addition to the quality of academic programmes," he said.
Also, 60 per cent of the current student body comprises of UAE nationals and the university aims to attract more students from GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. The university is also increasing the high school score for admission to 85 per cent. Current students also need to maintain a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.25 while most universities expect their students to maintain 2.0 GPA. The university purposely does not provide visas or any sponsorship in order to limit admissions. "We are not interested in profit — we want to generate enough revenues to cover tuition."
UD recently received accreditation from the US-based Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). It is among 5 per cent of business schools worldwide that have earned the accreditation. Hefni said UD is also being quite picky with its areas of focus, which include business and information technology, and a College of Law that is in the pipeline.
UD creates student sponsorship programme with Barclays Bank
Last month, the University of Dubai (UD) signed an agreement with Barclays Bank to begin a student sponsorship programme.
Barclays will offer a full-year sponsorship as well as opportunities for internship to deserving UAE nationals. Eight UAE nationals at UD have already been admitted to the programme, which will give them the opportunity to be exposed to technology and knowledge in the banking field, and industry best practices.
In return, students are required to represent the bank in official activities such as fairs, conferences and exhibitions, as well as work on a full-time basis for a maximum of one month a year. This move is in line with the bank's mission to support the academic and career development of UAE nationals. During the internship period students will get hands-on experience on a variety of projects.