One of the biggest advantages of living in Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) is its proximity to a wide spectrum of schools and universities. The neighbourhood offers an ecosystem that facilitates education, whether it’s early years education, British or American curriculum, primary or secondary schools. There is even the 10,000-sq-m DSOA University Residence, which provides students a safe, secure and affordable place to live.
Nurseries such as the British Orchard Nursery, Toddlers International Nursery and Emirates British Nursery in DSO provide a perfect place to nurture and train children during their early years. Gems Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, which opened in 2011, is one of the first schools in DSO and the first British-curriculum school in the UAE to offer its students A-Levels as well as the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. It started the dual provision last September.
DSO residents can also choose to enrol their children in Dubai English Speaking College in the nearby Academic City, which follows the English national curriculum, or the Indian International School, which is affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education in India.
Michael Bartlett, an independent education consultant in Dubai who works with several schools in DSO, believes that the neighbourhood offers an ideal environment for students.
“This is our fourth year living in DSO. The slower pace here is more conducive to learning and it seems more community driven,” says, Bartlett, a resident of DSO himself who has worked as an executive principal and school improvement consultant. “The opening of the North Park near Cedre Villas has given students more open spaces. There’s also a retail area nearby with a Starbucks and Spinneys, and it’s a walkable distance for students. So, from a lifestyle standpoint, it’s easy to meet your classmates.”
The majority of students who live in DSO also go to school there, whether it’s university or K-12 students, according to the American expat, who has enrolled one of his children in Gems Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis. “My daughter is thriving there because it’s a big performing art school and she loves the songs, dance and drama,” he says. “She has really blossomed. Her French, Arabic and English have also improved in this school.”
There are also several other well-known schools in the neighbouring area of Nad Al Sheba. The nearest of those to DSO is Rising School, which follows the American Common Core Curriculum.
For higher education, DSO offers easy access to 27 universities at Dubai International Academic City’s (DIAC). These include the British University in Dubai, University of Birmingham, American University in the Emirates, Heriot-Watt University and Manipal University.
The University of Birmingham has recently broken ground on the second phase of its Dubai campus in DIAC. This marks the global Top 100 university’s long-term commitment to supporting the UAE through its teaching and research. The new campus will be home for up to 2,900 students — featuring innovative teaching and research space to encourage cross disciplinary work.
In the academic year 2018-19, DIAC universities saw enrolment increase by 7 per cent to 27,500 students, a surge likely driven by the UAE’s decision to replace the one-year student visa with a five-year visa.
According to DIAC, this regulatory change will make it easier for students to secure long-term residence and employment within the country.
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in DSO has also witnessed an increase in student numbers, from just over 100 in 2008 to almost 800 today. The New York-based university specialises in engineering, computing and business and has over 19,000 students across its campuses worldwide.
Additionally, RIT Dubai is the first university in the Middle East and North Africa to offer a Master of Science in Professional Studies - Data Analytics and Master of Science in Professional Studies - City Sciences programmes. “For the data analytics programme, the people who teach the curricula are from industry, such as IBM,” says Aida Ghazal, marketing and communications manager at RIT.
“The advantage RIT has over other universities is that it’s incubated within DSO. We’re surrounded by some of the biggest players in the industry, such as Jeep, Porsche, Schneider Electric and Axiom. They understand that we’ve got students looking for internships, and because they are industry leaders, we give them the best of our talents.”
Clearly, DSO offers a unique proposition for students and a dynamic lifestyle that allows them to move at their own pace, study, socialise and stay active.