Dubai: It is now crunch time for universities in Dubai Free Zone as they are being reassessed for quality in order to obtain their Educational Services Permit, which allows them to operate for one year.
International experts, who make up the University Quality Assurance International Board (UQAIB) and are under the remit of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), are currently in Dubai to look at the renewal of university permits, those on probation and new institutions and programmes.

They will make their recommendations to the KHDA's Regulation and Compliance Commission that makes the final decision on issuing education permits. The KHDA handles quality assurance but not accreditation, which falls under the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

"There are a small number of universities and programmes on probation and we have notified the institutions and they are clarifying any issues that remain. But we are dealing mainly now with renewal [of permits]," said Dr Warren Fox, executive director of Higher Education at KHDA.

Fox said there were "some institutions that were not able to demonstrate that their international branch campus here was correctly part of the home campus and the accreditation and approval does not directly flow to the branch campus".

Stringent criteria

In the last round of assessments, the UQAIB found that the International Institute for Technology and Management (IITM), Mahatma Gandhi University (MGU) and Universal Empire Institute of Medical Sciences (UEIMS) did not meet requirements laid down.

Manipal University's Dubai campus withdrew its fashion design programme after UQAIB found that the fashion programme did not exist at the parent campus.

It has been noted that universities that are not meeting the KHDA's requirements are moving to neighbouring education free zones that may not have stringent criteria.

"An example is UEIMS, which did not have an accredited parent campus and did not meet the quality requirement of the KHDA," Fox said.