The BridgeU guide to higher education in the Gulf

In just a few days, we’ll be off to Abu Dhabi for the NESA Fall Leadership Conference, which we are sponsoring this year. We’ve gone totally Gulf-mad in our Shoreditch office, so our latest blog post is a round-up of what’s going down in the Gulf. 

Show me the money. It’s no secret that higher education in the Gulf has been booming over the past two decades. Current expenditure on higher education in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries is at an average of 3.8 percent of GDP. And in the Gulf, the massive investment into higher education seems to be paying off. According to research impact rankings of MENA universities by Times Higher Education, Texas A&M in Qatar took the top spot, while Qatar University came fourth.

But is the branch campus boom coming to an end? According to a May 2015 article in Times Higher Education, the trend of branch campuses popping up in the Gulf may be on the decline, with universities like UCL reviewing their operations in the Gulf. This may be because universities are coming to believe that there are other ways of internationalizing education, such as building partnership and establishing joint degree programmes. Is the trend slowing down or is this merely a false alarm?

Gulf countries are drawing students from further afield. Any institution with global aspirations has to prove its international relevance. We’ve heard from The Pie News that international events organiser BMI has partnered with Dubai International Academic City in an attempt to diversify the range of students coming to Dubai to study. The plan is to draw students from South America and Asia to Dubai International Academic City. And as international students, they’ve got plenty of reasons to feel at home there; with 24,000 students from 145 countries, DIAC is the world’s largest free zone dedicated to international education.

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