Curtin column
Universities in the UAE are offering a range of options for the new academic session to make sure students and parents do not feel the pinch in handling the financial burden of undertaking an undergraduate or post-graduate course under the current stressful times in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and its related economic woes. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: From waiving off fees partially to increasing scholarships worth tens of millions of dirhams, universities in the UAE are making higher education more accessible for students in the disruptive COVID-19 era.

The support includes grants, flexi payment plans, financial aid, tie-ups with banks, special discounts and foregoing outstanding fees for struggling families. Many parents lost their jobs or took pay cuts in the economic impact of the pandemic, forcing a rethink of higher education plans for their children, especially when it comes to higher education abroad. However, a number of leading universities in the UAE have extended various measures to ensure students continue their academic ambitions without any disruption.

See more

‘We need to make education accessible’

Speaking about Amity University in Dubai, Dr Vajahat Hussain, CEO of Amity Education ME, said tertiary learning has to be more accessible in times of crisis. “As an education provider, we need to make education accessible. Relieving stress that students may have and making sure that they are able to focus on their studies are our primary goals during these unpredictable times. We have tie-ups with several banks and financial agencies to provide easy payment options and solutions. Scholarships and bursaries are also available for students who have an exemplary academic record or have achieved success in extra-curricular activities like sports, dance, art and more,” he added.

Register now for GN EduFair:

Full scholarships

At Amity University in Dubai, 100 per cent scholarships are awarded to students achieving 93 per cent or above in the Indian CBSE board exams or the equivalent from other curriculum, for example, says it website. This is applicable to undergraduate programmes for students graduating from schools or universities in the UAE. There are also several other merit and means based scholarships under different categories.

Waiving off fees

Dr Hussain added: “To give relief to parents and students who might have been financially affected over the past year, the university is offering instalment plans for pending fee payments. In many cases, the university has waived off a significant portion of the fees. We are encouraging students who decided not to enrol for higher education this year in September and were planning to go abroad, to enrol for the January 2021 intake and experience university life in Dubai at an exceptional campus.”

Special grants

At Middlesex University Dubai, the support for students in paying tuition fees includes, among other options, scholarships worth Dh24 million for the 2020-2021 academic year, which began in September. Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, pro-vice chancellor, Middlesex University Dubai, said: “Middlesex University Dubai offers a wide variety of scholarships and grants to support students. This includes Academic Excellence Scholarships of up to Dh90,000 for foundation and undergraduate students, based on merit. Grants are also provided to postgraduate and international students up to 20 per cent. Students can also avail sports and cultural scholarships, School Partnership Grants, Corporate Partnership Grants and Teacher Engagement Grants. ESAAD card members can also redeem a 20 per cent discount across the university’s tuition fees.”

Flexi payment plans

Dr Fernandes added: “Alongside its array of scholarships and grants, the university offers flexible payment plans that enable students to pay their fees in instalments as opposed to paying in full for the academic year. The university is also working with Mashreq Bank to provide students with finance options to ensure they can complete their studies. Through the Mashreq Education Loan, students can spread payments upto 24 months at special rates.”

Special discount

Meanwhile, at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, there is an additional scheme, beyond its various scholarships, which offers all 2020 graduating students a 30 per cent discount on fees on all its postgraduate taught programmes.

Claire Roper-Browning, regional director,marketing, recruitment, admissions and communications (MRAC), Heriot-Watt University Dubai, said: “We fully understand the impact of the current crisis and are extending as much support as possible to families who reach out. To help ease financial burden and to reward deserving candidates, Heriot-Watt University Dubai already offers several types of scholarships and discounts to eligible students residing in the UAE and abroad.”

These include the alumni scholarship, family scholarship, merit scholarship, sports and community engagement scholarship, vice-chancellor’s scholarship, and discounts for early application, full advance fee payment and corporate groups. “We are, additionally, running the ‘Future Made For Success’ programme that offers all Heriot-Watt 2020 graduating students a 30 per cent fee discount on all postgraduate taught programmes. Our students can also take advantage of a payment plan where their fees can be split and spread over several months in the form of post-dated cheques (PDC),” Roper-Browning said.

Gulf News EduFair 2020

The three universities are among the more than dozen leading higher education institutions in the UAE sending their key representatives virtually to the first-ever online Gulf News EduFair from November 11-13. All queries from students and parents — from how to pay fees easily to how to enrol seamlessly in the right course — will be comprehensively covered in one-to-one sessions as well as through expert-led daily webinars throughout the three-day EduFair.

Read more

Full access

Students and parents can register for free at to gain full access to a world of academic and extracurricular opportunities right here in the UAE. The strategic partner for the event is United Arab Emirates University; knowledge partner is the British Council and consulting partner is Y-Axis. Apart from unrestricted access to all features of the virtual fair at the click of a button, all those who register will also avail of an exclusive discount offer on fashion offerings from SHEIN, the event’s styling partner.

Who all are coming

The virtual exhibitors at the online EduFair offering spaces for the January 2021 intake are Heriot-Watt University, University of Sharjah, Amity University Dubai, Westford University College, American University in Dubai, Middlesex University, SP Jain School of Global Management, University of West London, Canadian University Dubai, Abu Dhabi University, BITS Pilani Dubai, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai, and Murdoch University Dubai.