Abu Dhabi: Even though more universities keep opening up in the country, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research is still struggling to convince male Emirati students to pursue higher studies.

Part of the new strategic plan for the ministry is to encourage Emiratis to enter the scientific field and study subjects such as mathematics, engineering and medicine.

The ministry's strategic plan for 2008-10 targets both federal and private universities.

Currently there are three federal universities, namely Zayed University (ZU), United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) and the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), and 52 private universities and colleges, a number that has grown steadily over the years.

"There are more Emirati females studying science than males. We hope to reverse that trend. We have around 1,700 students who study abroad at the moment," said Professor Samir Eldessouky, advisor to the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and professor at Zayed University.

The strategic plan of the ministry for 2008 to 2010 was reviewed and approved by Shaikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and President of Zayed University (ZU).

The plan includes better customer satisfaction, to introduce electronic services and to reduce the drop-out rate of male students.

Growth: Increasing efficiency at universities

The strategic plan includes:

  • To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of private institutes by improving the standard of teachers and the student to teacher ratio.
  • To encourage scientific research at the National Foundation Research Centre.
  • The UAE Government is looking for other resources in order to maintain the quality of education in the country, as student numbers increase.

Facts and Figures

  • Total number of students at federal institutions is around 33,000, female and males. Of them 81 per cent are females.
  • There are around 45,000 females and males in the private higher education sector across the UAE.