Reporting & Insights 🏛️ University 5th March 2024

Where are UAE Prospective International Undergraduate Students Interested in Studying?

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Zahra Onsori University Content Writer

International schools account for more than half of all schools in the UAE. 

This corresponds with the growth in interest we’ve seen from UAE international students in studying abroad. 

And as time progresses, we anticipate this number to grow even more. 

But this growth of K-12 schools brings not only a wealth of opportunity for the international education sector; but also a heightened sense of competition. 

Which is why now is the time to get ahead of the competition and understand the intricacies of the region in order to to lay the building blocks for your tailored recruitment approach. 

That’s one of the reasons why we created our International Country Recruitment Guide to the United Arab Emirates.

Our first regional report aims to not only give you detailed insight into the region – which is necessary for a culturally sensitive recruitment approach – but also provides exclusive BridgeU data, with real-time insights from our UAE school counsellors and Dubai based Customer Success team. 

The data below is a short excerpt of our report.

UAE student data trends: an excerpt

This report segment analyses university shortlists from UAE students in the BridgeU platform for 2024 graduating students, and includes insights into popular destination countries, interest in ranking, how interest in the UK compares to the US, and interest in subjects.

This data will not only support and inform your understanding of student trends in the region, but also underscores the importance of localised and targeted recruitment efforts from higher-ed institutions. 

Europe is leading in interest for UAE international students

International undergraduate UAE data

Whilst America is still a popular destination for UAE students, interest y-o-y has fallen in the USA, whilst interest in Europe, particularly the UK, has risen.

This lies in contrast to the trends a few years ago when the USA was the most popular region for UAE students. 

And BridgeU school counsellors in the UAE have highlighted that there are a few intentional reasons why interest in the US has decreased. 

One counsellor highlighted that due to the US being further away, parents and students have higher standards when applying, with some believing that in order to make this move worthwhile, they should apply to Ivy League institutions. 

However, due to Ivy League universities being harder to get into, and high application fee costs, students are more reluctant to apply there and will instead look elsewhere. 

So, US universities need to work harder to showcase the value in their institutions, and why they’re worth travelling for. It also highlights that US universities that sit outside of the Ivy League need to continue to work on their brand awareness when recruiting students from this region.

Interested in reading more of our exclusive data & student trend insights from our network of international schools in the UAE?

Get the latest application trends in the UAE

See if you’re eligible to access our exclusive regional report below.