The first results of the ‘Higher Education Classification’ by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) have been published, ushering in a new era of transparency even for higher education. With this advancement, the KHDA has seamlessly expanded the boundaries of accountability from schools to higher education, a move that offers unambiguous advantages for students and parents whose hopes, money and effort are invested in the UAE’s education system as a collateral for a strong future.
The classification system, much like the school rating system, is based on the indispensable assets an institution of higher studies must possess — teaching, employability, research, internationalisation, facilities, overall programme strength, well-being, social responsibility and inclusiveness.
An examination and rating of these assets will determine whether a university is delivering to its students what it has undertaken to do — providing them with a clear road map to the future and equipping them with the skills to forge ahead on that path. This is a responsibility with a particularly weighty significance in today’s times that are marked by the infinite possibilities of careers choices in science, technology and other areas.
The growing number of top-class, internationally accredited universities in Dubai are already an exciting gateway for students in the UAE who are looking for breakthrough opportunities and this classification is now the icing on the cake as it will help them zero in on their ambitions with more precision as they assess their choice of university based on quantitative and qualitative factors rather than guess work.
The classification process will also have a domino effect by attracting more top international institutions to Dubai, who will be drawn to its environment of transparency and push for excellence.
The first round of this annual exercise has yielded a good haul — of the 17 institutions rated, three achieved a 5-star rating, eight a 4-star status, three got 3-star, two got 2-star and one got 1-star. The 5-star plus rating has eluded all contenders this year but that’s a reason for hope, as it will act as a motivation for the institutions to push their boundaries of performance.
The KHDA’s rating system for schools has year upon year, brought new energy and momentum to field of education. The classification process for universities too will lead to similar outcomes, channelling the benefits to those who are the raison d’etre of the processes — the students.