Dubai: Student enrolment in higher education institutions in Dubai, especially universities inside the free zone, has risen by 11 per cent in the last year, according to the Higher Education Landscape Report 2012 issued yesterday. The number of students enrolled in higher education centres has swelled by 31 per cent in the last five years.

The report issued by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) also highlighted the scope for the 53 higher education institutions operating in the emirate, which have collectively enrolled 48,058 students, to admit more students for doctoral programmes.

The report which was announced by KHDA states that there is an increase of 11 per cent in Dubai’s higher education and an increase of 12 per cent in universities inside the Free Zone.

The study indicates that free zone universities have 46 per cent of the total number of university students in Dubai. While students enrolled outside the free zone account for 36 per cent and those enrolled in federal universities form just 18 per cent.

“What is significant to me is that 46 per cent of the students are attending free zone and branch campuses because 10 years ago their was no free zone so today the introduction of the free zone concept is contributing to the landscape and this will continue to grow” said Abdullah Al Karam, Director General of the board of directors at KHDA.

Al Karam also stated that the higher education continued to grow and has grown 11 per cent for the year before which is a very good indictor that shows that there are more students going to universities which means that they have higher chances of getting jobs.

The reason for this increase can be attributed to Resolution Number 21 concerning higher education that allowed Dubai’s free zone institutions to be recognised by employers in both the private and public sectors.

The report also found that, in terms of nationality, Emiratis make up the largest group with 43 per cent. In this category, 45 per cent are female and 55 per cent are male students. Seventy Four per cent of the Emirati students are studying in Bachelors programmes and the major that is in most demand from UAE nationals is Business.

“The report shows very good results for Dubai. Student enrolment remains strong, including a rise in the number of Emirati students. As over 40 per cent of the students are Emirati and they have about 10 per cent growth rate” said Warren Fox, Executive Director of Higher Education at KHDA.

Even though the report showed an overall positive growth in higher education, there were some programmes that were found lacking such as doctorate degrees that account only for one per cent of enrolments. The report shows that only 0.1 per cent of doctorate degrees were awarded among all graduates in Dubai in 2011-2012.

Abdullah Mohammad Al Shamsi, Vice-Chancellor of British University in Dubai, said: “The reason for this lack in doctorate degrees is mainly because their was no need for it the past, we were focused on bachelors degree and masters degrees. However as higher education institutes grow there will be an automatic need for it and this might be a problem.”

During the academic year of 2011/2012, a total of 9,139 students graduated from Dubai’s universities with Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral qualifications. Vital to Dubai’s economic growth, the private higher education sector is supported by Resolution 21, which entitles graduates from all private universities in Dubai to have their degrees certified by KHDA, and guarantees that their qualifications will be recognised by the public and private sector in Dubai for all purposes.

— Noor Nazzal is a trainee at Gulf News