The Knowledge and Human Development Authority’s new Higher Education Classification aims to make it easier for students to choose a university based on their areas of interest. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Universities’ international branch campuses in Dubai are now rated on a 1 to 5-star-plus scale, the Dubai Executive Council announced on Tuesday.

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, said the development follows the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for creating an environment conducive to outstanding academic achievement.

Shaikh Hamdan added that “our goal is to raise the competitiveness of our universities to the highest international standards”.

“We seek to attract more prestigious universities to graduate generations capable of making a better future,” Shaikh Hamdan said.

First ratings

Gulf News can reveal that, according to the first-ever ratings, three institutions achieved a 5-star rating, eight institutions achieved a 4-star rating, three institutions received a 3-star rating, two achieved a 2-star rating and one received a 1-star rating. The names of the universities are expected to be announced soon.

Universities are evaluated on eight quality indicators and awarded an overall star ranging from 1 to 5+ stars, depending on the number of points achieved in the evaluation. The overall score will be based on individual indicators — allowing students to match their interests with education providers that are strong in topics that interest them.

The new Higher Education Classification by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) will make it easier for students to choose a university based on their areas of interest, it said.

Providing an overview of higher education institutions in Dubai, students can now identify which universities are the best in specific areas like teaching, employability, research, facilities and programme strength, among other indicators.

‘Transparent framework’

Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director-General, KHDA, said: “The last 10 years have seen student enrolment more than double, from 12,000 students in 2008, to over 30,000 students today. As the sector continues to grow, so does the need for a transparent and robust framework that will enable institutions to showcase their strengths and provide the public with helpful, relevant data to inform higher education decision-making. The classification represents a new milestone and symbolises a maturity in Dubai’s higher education sector.”

Dr Al Karam added: “We understand that international branch campuses are different from one another and they cater to a broad range of international students who recognise Dubai as a leading international study destination. The classification recognises distinct strengths and caters to the needs of individual learners who may be looking for something different to meet their future aspirations. Dubai continues to play an important role as a growing regional education hub and the classification is designed to continue attracting students from all over the world — with a renewed emphasis on high-quality education.”

The ratings have been jointly developed in partnership with QS and adapted to meet the needs of private universities in Dubai.

What are the eight quality indicators?

  • Teaching
  • Employability
  • Research
  • Internationalisation
  • Facilities
  • Overall Programme Strength
  • Well-being
  • Social Responsibility and Inclusiveness

Points-based ratings

100 points: 1-star

250 points: 2-star

400 points: 3-star

550 points: 4-star

700 points: 5-star

900 points: 5-star-plus

What the ratings mean

Dubai’s first rating system for universities will be based on points achieved during evaluation

One star: Institution provides a good standard of education and has a good organisational structure.

Two star: Institution provides a good standard of education and has demonstrated progress in core criteria categories.

Three star: Institution provides a high standard of education and demonstrates strengths in core criteria categories while showing progress in advanced criteria.

Four star: Institution offers excellent standard of education, demonstrates strengths in core and advanced criteria and meets pre-requisites in research and internationalisation. Good job prospects for graduates.

Five star: Institution offers world-class standard of education and demonstrates strengths across all categories. It has highly regarded international research and teaching standards. Graduates are sought after.

Five star plus: Institution demonstrates all the qualities of a five-star institution. It attracts high-performing students and faculty. Graduates employed in public and private sectors.