Rupert Merrick noted that students can get a world-class degree in the UAE, often delivered by a foreign university. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: The falling Indian rupee makes universities in the UAE more attractive than institutions in the West for “the more price-sensitive” applicants from India, a student recruitment expert told Gulf News on Tuesday.

Rupert Merrick, director of BMI Media, which organises student recruitment fairs internationally, said: “You have to remember that the dirham is linked to the US dollar, so if the rupee is down against the dirham, it is also down against the US dollar…

As the UAE is more of a cost-effective location, I think those more price-sensitive students from India will be saying, ‘I want to study overseas, maybe the UK and northern Europe is a bit out of reach — what is my next opportunity?’ Even though there are cheaper areas to study than the UAE, I think the UAE can have that cost-benefit advantage.”

Indian students are finding it harder to pay for university abroad as the rupee has fallen to around 74 to a dollar. Antonin Kelian Kallouche/Gulf News

One main advantage, Merrick said, is that “you can get a world-class degree here in the UAE, often delivered by a foreign university”. A number of leading Western universities, including New York University, University of Birmingham and Paris-Sorbonne University, have campuses in the UAE offering the same degree as the home campus at lower tuition and living expenses.

Indian applicants are finding it harder to pay for university abroad as the rupee has fallen to around 74 per US dollar (around 20 per UAE dirham).

New findings

Merrick’s comments came on the sidelines of the launch of a new study titled Transnational Student Mobility and University Trends in 2018: University Marketing Methodologies, Offerings and Student Recruitment Strategies. The number of applicants from India attending university in the UAE were not available at the event.

The study was conducted by BMI Media in partnership with Dubai international Academic City (DIAC). It surveyed 104 universities from 41 countries, including five universities in the UAE, about their global student recruitment practices, among other things.

One of the main results of the study showed that India is widely perceived as the fastest-growing market for international student recruitment. A majority of surveyed institutions anticipate increased marketing activities in India in the next 12 months, putting China at a close second.

The bilateral economic and commercial ties between India and UAE are at an all-time high, the study noted, with relations being strengthened in trade, investment, energy, artificial intelligence, space, and other sectors.

UAE universities can expect to benefit from these strengthening relationships with an increased number of Indian students travelling to the UAE for university studies, the study added.

Speaking at the event, Mohammad Abdullah, managing director of DIAC, said: “Through our research, we aim to continue driving the development of higher education, and identify opportunities for universities, students and agents alike. The UAE is a growing higher education hub with 83 per cent of the UAE universities surveyed experiencing growth and the student numbers at DIAC increasing by seven per cent over the previous academic year. The government’s recent changes to residency visa regulations for students will definitely support this trend.”

Did you know?

More than 27,000 students from 150 nationalities study at 27 universities from nine countries at Dubai International Academic City. Altogether, they offer more than 500 certificate, diploma, undergraduate, post graduate and PhD programmes.

What the study shows

The majority of surveyed universities experienced growth in the last year, with 42 per cent experiencing up to five per cent growth.

14 per cent of surveyed universities experienced a loss in student numbers in the last academic year. Of these, over 60 per cent came from US universities.

Canada dominated those who reported a growth of 11 per cent or greater. Canada is the fastest growing major student receiver in the world at present.

The majority of universities from the UAE reported growth, of up to 16 to 20 per cent in one case. Only one of the five surveyed universities reported negative growth.

Contrary to the number of actual international student numbers, India is seen as a faster growth market over China for international students in the next three years.