With the higher education sector growing rapidly in the country, choices can be overwhelming. UmmeSalma Mujtaba provides a few guidelines.

You're finally a senior - and counting the days until graduation. But what's next? If you're planning on attending college coming fall, you can't wait until graduation to begin working on it.

Ensure that you're ready to hit the campus of your choice next fall. Take steps at the right time and the right direction, so your senior year will be filled with happy memories.

- Heading for college? but not sure where?

- Local universities/colleges in the city.

- Embarking on an education at the Dubai Knowledge Village, Academic City, Sharjah University City, RAK Education Zone.

The choices can be overwhelming for parents and students. Here's how you can prepare a checklist for college admission.

Student: Dos:

- Seriously think about why you're going to college.

- Identify your majors at high school and talk to counsellors at your school.

- Get the whole family involved, cousins, family friends, uncles and aunts who have any local experience.

- Narrow your choices to two or three institutions and visit the ones you're really interested in attending.

- Tour the campus, talk to students, sit in on a class or two, and spend time in the career placement office.

- Factor in hidden time costs: compare the commuting time from the campus to your residence. At college you are expected to deliver more in terms of projects and assignments. Make sure you have enough time for this.

- If your calculations show you would be spending a lot of time on the road, rethink a boarding/dorm stay.

- Also identify: Do you have any relatives/family/ friends in the college vicinity in case of emergencies?

- Find alternative driving routes to your college.

- Check the year calendar and institution's participation at national/international level competitions. The UAE offers many academic and extracurricular competitions.

- Internship assistance at the institution is of utmost importance for you as a student. Your college life will end with your being an entrant to the industry, exposure to which must come during college.

Student Don'ts:

- Don't join just because a friend is joining a particular college.

- Don't be shy about asking for graduation and job placement statistics of past graduates.

- Don't rule out the schools at the top end of your tuition range (if financial aid is an important factor). They may be able to offer a financial aid package or a scholarship. Lots of institutes offer various kinds of scholarships. For details check respective websites.

Checklist for Parents

You are out to invest finances in your child's future. Due to recent incidents of universities shutting down, as a parent you have a right to ask about:

- Institution's accreditation and its validity period

- Period of accreditation: how long has the institute been accredited

- Institution's intention to continue with the necessary time to complete a degree/diploma

- A one-year rental contract of any institution premises does not guarantee the institute will remain operational for the degree completion duration; therefore parents need to check for the institution's clear commitment to remain operational during the degree completion.

- Many universities offer transfer to the main campus after a certain completion period. If your child is being enrolled as an on-campus student, you could ask for transfer details to the parent campus.

- All professional programmes (doctors, engineers, architects) have an associated professional body that accredits the graduate to practise his/her profession on degree completion. Check for this accreditation.

- Would the institute be providing your child with a student visa? All accredited institutes within the city are authorised by the ministry to provide student visas that allow them to stay for the study course duration. Institutes in the free zones are authorised for the same.

Note: Although, branch campuses at the Dubai Knowlege Village are accredited by virtue of the parent campus in the country of origin, ask for details of accreditation from local authorities in the country of origin.


"Yes, I was born and brought up here; I feel comfortable studying here.
- Richa Thakur, medicine, UEIMS

"My major has fewer opportunities here. So I'd prefer to go back to my country."
- Esha Khurshid, dental surgery, UEIMS

"I will continue studying here; there are many universities and jobs."
- Saif Ansari, engineering, BITS Pilani, Dubai Campus

"I am an only child; I have to stay with my family. Moreover my college is good."
- Apeksha Srungaram, engineering, BITS Pilani

"I want to stay with my family. My college is well- recognised; it was my dream to join it."
- Sonia Mathews, BITS Pilani Dubai campus

"Yes, I expect a promising future in the UAE and my family is here."
- Samarth Agarwal, marketing University of Wales

"I was born and brought up here. I like it here and would like to continue studying here."
- Eletus Carualho, MAHE- Manipal Dubai

"I enjoy life here; I am familiar with the country. There are so many job opportunities."
- Ebie Varikkad, MAHE- Manipal

"The country is developing fast; there are lots of job opportunities. Why not study here?"
- Vijoy Varghese, MAHE- Manipal

"My friends and family are here, and I find the UAE an interesting and fun place to live in."
- Anish Mohanan, MAHE- Manipal

Country: Accrediting Body
India: University Grants Commission, India
UK: Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education
USA: International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education, Council for Higher Education Accreditation
Belgium: Flemish Higher Education
Australia: Australian Universities Quality Agency
Pakistan: Higher Education Commission
Canada: In Canada, there is no national system of educational quality assurance. Post-secondary education is the responsibility of the provincial and territorial governments, and each jurisdiction has its own quality assurance mechanisms.

For more information: www.cicic.ca/postsec/accreditation/accreditation.en.stm

- The writer is a research scholar, a freelance trainer and an academic consultant.