RAKEZ Image Credit: Supplied

The year 2020 has changed the education landscape as we know it, bringing about a series of challenges. These tested the agility of educational institutions and service providers in adapting to the massive changes in the industry.

In the UAE, the northernmost emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has been showing remarkable support to the education sector ever since it embraced it as one of the key pillars to its continuous development. Central to this journey is RAKEZ Academic Zone, which was established to attract qualified educational institutions and service providers that are committed to delivering market-driven, educational, training and professional development services.

Operating under the Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ), the Academic Zone licenses and regulates the educational institutions in the free zone. It provides cost-effective solutions and value-added services to players in the field of education, and this is complemented with attractive benefits such as easy business set-up procedures and professional assistance to ensure smooth functioning of the institutions. When it comes to setting up their base, the authority provides the option to lease or build a facility, depending on the investor’s requirements.

These combined offerings led to the sustainability of the RAKEZ Academic Zone even in the face of challenging times. In 2020, it was able to attract three major universities during the height of Covid when all schools closed their doors and sent students to learn from home. RAKEZ Academic Zone is presently home to 11 international university branch campuses – all of which are fully accredited and recognised in their home countries. Among the newest additions to the RAKEZ Academic Zone portfolio are Birmingham City University, a UK-based university; South Ville International School and Colleges, the first Filipino university in RAKEZ Academic Zone and UAE; and Northwood University, the first US-based branch university licensed in the northern emirates.

In terms of the market shifts in 2020, RAKEZ Academic Zone has responded by innovating its existing products for the education sector. It introduced its very own Virtual Educational Packages to meet the increased demand for e-learning providers during the pandemic. The packages come in four types and are bundled with all the elements educational professionals need to set up a thriving online knowledge business, such as a licence, free UAE visa, and access to RAKEZ’s newly launched Compass Coworking Centre and a range of value-added services.

Of the four virtual education package types, the first ones launched were specifically for online trainers and tutors. RAKEZ Academic Zone issued many new licences for these segments in just a short span, adding to its existing ecosystem of 200 education partners. In a bid to further tap the virtual sphere, it recently introduced packages for online educational consultants and providers of online examination and test preparation.

RAKEZ Academic Zone also shows commitment to sparking conversations between institutions and third-party entities within its community. One of the ways the authority does this is by creating engaging events such as Academic–Industry Network Discussion. It is a series of round table meetings that aim to bridge the academia-industry gap by bringing together leaders from government, industry and universities on the same platform to talk about industry-related issues.

With all the incentives and initiatives being rolled out by the authority, RAKEZ Academic Zone is set to bring in more high-quality educational institutions and service providers to the northern emirates. This impacts the bigger picture, making Ras Al Khaimah one of the most ideal destinations for educational players and learners alike.