Despite higher cost of living expenses and rising tuition fees, the United Kingdom is still one of the most popular education destinations for both Emirati and expatriate UAE students.
However, according to counsellors from British universities, the maximum number of enquiries are for medicine and engineering courses.
International Placewell Consultants (IPC), Gulf, organised a Higher Education Fair on April 27, 28 and 29 in Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain respectively.
Top ranked universities from the United Kingdom, including Aston University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Keele University, University of St. Andrews, and University of Sheffield among other universities participated in the fair.
Over 200 students participated in the fair in Dubai, alone. The representatives from the universities provided students with first hand information and shed light on subjects such as entry requirements, fees, scholarships and bursaries, student loans and support, accommodation and application procedures.
“Most Asian expatriate students come to enquire about medicine and engineering courses. It is expensive, but that is what the demand is the highest for at the moment,” said the director of IPC Pratima Mittal. “We went to schools as well, as part of the tour, because we figured that children are a lot more focused on their future and career plans in the UAE,” she added.
Mittal said: “Students in the UAE recognise the fact that a UK degree and experience will equip them to compete on a global platform.” He added that the UK has been a preferred destination for higher education from the UAE because of the freedom and flexibility that UK universities provide.
A delegate from the University of St Andrews, Jane Magee said: “There are about 500 students from the region at our university. Enquiries have been flooding for medicine and engineering courses. The hike in fees or newer visa regulations introduced by the High Commission has not affected our intake.”
Associate director of the international office at the University of Sheffield John Connolly added: “The numbers from the Gulf countries and UAE has not been affected at all. There are about 500 students from the Gulf countries who are studying in our university. We have more Asian expatriates from the UAE as compared to Emirati students.”
Banks like Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) are offering loans to students who are interested in travelling to the UK or other countries to pursue their higher education. “We are one of the few banks in the UAE who are offering loans to parents of students who want to send their children to the UK. Over the last few years, the loan schemes have become quiet popular. In the last two years, ADCB issued 60 educational loans to students,” said Malika Khanna, product officer in the unsecured loans division at the bank.
The UK is the world’s second largest market for international students; its total market share grew from 11 per cent to 12 per cent from 2001 to 2009, while during the same period, the US market share decreased considerably from 28 per cent to 22 per cent.
According to recent data released by the British Council, the United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, there were 3,145 UAE students studying in the UK for 2011 academic year, which represents an increase of 126 per cent since 2002.