Within three years of its arrival on the academic scene, Amity University, a private non-profit education group from India with 25 international campuses around the world, has announced a massive expansion plan to have its own independent campus in Dubai, slated to be the largest academic development in the Dubai International Academic City.
By 2014, Amity University will have a 700,000 sq feet campus on Academic City Road, that will accommodate a total of 5,000 students. As chief of Amity University in Dubai, Senior Vice President Vajahat Hussain cannot conceal his enthusiasm at this exciting new development.
“We want people to know we are here to stay and that we make a full commitment to education and to the students of the UAE,” he remarked. He spoke to Education on the new development and its place in the UAE’s vision for excellence in education.
Q: How did Amity take the decision to open a 700,000 sq feet campus? Do bigger campuses translate into better education?
Amity has a long-term vision for the region in general and UAE in particular. The support we received from the regulator KHDA, our host free zone Dubai Academic City and the response from the students encouraged us to make this commitment. We feel that a bigger campus will enhance student experience beyond the classroom with better outcomes.
Q: You are the first university to start an independent campus. Do you see other universities following suit?
We are a not-for-profit institution and this status brings in its own outlook. We look at everything in the long term and do not expect to make financial gain in the short term. A campus requires major investment and it will depend on the Universities where they see themselves in the long term. We have seen examples of universities in Dubai who are operating out of leased blocks and they will have to do their own assessment of the long term vision. Ours vision is clear and our commitment is made.
Q: A bigger campus naturally means greater commitment, greater expense and investment in people. How does Amity plan to fund this and manage the commitment aspect?
You are right. We have deliberated this within our Foundation and the outcome of this deliberation was clear. Amity is here to stay and ready to make huge investments in the infrastructure and people. We feel this is the only way we can contribute and add value to this great nation in the long run.
Q: Does a bigger campus mean a better ranking in terms of academic rigour?
This is not linked, but we feel that the bigger campus will enhance student experience. Good infrastructure and resources will support the student to achieve better outcomes. In terms of ranking we will be working very hard to make sure we are there at the top with the best institutions. At Amity, being at the top is a passion and we have seen this result in our students being hired on campus.
Q: What are the new disciplines to be introduced in the new campus?
We have our hands full at the moment. We have an engineering school, management school, a hospitality school and forensic science. Most of the courses offered are in line with the national agenda of the UAE. Be it solar and alternate energy, nanotechnology, nuclear science, civil engineering, architecture, banking, real estate, event management, our students will have an industry ready qualification to start work in sectors that have demand in the coming years.
Q: Higher education in the UAE is acquiring a keener edge of competition. Where does Amity see itself in five years?
We believe that our students should be industry ready if they are to be successful. Our approach to delivering education is therefore different. We engage our students early on with the industry and by the time they come out of their 3 or 4 year course, they are employed. In the next 5 years, we have to make sure the industry knows that Amity graduates are the best.
Q: What kind of career prospects do Amity students have? Do they have good job placements?
Amity is proud of the fact that all our students get recruited on campus. The quality of the Amity students in our home campuses is recognised by the industry with more than 45,000 campus placements. It will also be our endeavour in Dubai that when our students graduate, they have a placement ready. We have an internal department that works full time to ensure this. We are encouraged by the industry response. We also encourage our students to be entrepreneurs. We support this in our incubation center where they are given full support to bring their business idea or innovation to fruition.
Q: Your plan is to expand research facilities. Can you elaborate?
Amity is a research- and innovation-driven institution. This is the core of our ethos. We conduct extensive research in our institutions, publish numerous case studies and file the highest number of patents. We want to do this in Dubai as well. We shall be setting up research labs on campus and invite researchers and faculty with similar inclination to work with us to accomplish this. Already, we have a team in place that is working on case studies and several of these are published with the European case study center.
Q: What’s your startegy to attract more students to Amity?
Our campus will be big enough to house 5,000 students. We feel that with this message of permanence and excellence going out to the schools, students and their parents, with the in demand courses that industry requires, with the resurgence of the economy, we are poised to offer best quality education here in Dubai.
We are attracting students from across the region with more than 30 nationalities already studying at Amity University Dubai. We are currently working with the best minds to develop a world-class campus that our students will love and enjoy during their time with us.
We are working towards being the best and largest campus by any private institution. Apart from world-class learning environment, we will also offer extensive sporting facilities, an Olympic-size swimming pool, running tracks, football field, rugby, cricket, tennis, indoor sports halls, dorms and food courts.