1st Apr, 2019

The new standards are aligned with the National Strategy for Higher Education.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) has launched a new set of standards for licensing universities in the UAE, taking effect in the last quarter of the year. It streamlines the accreditation process, introduces a quality-based evaluation scheme, and addresses the gaps in the existing standards.

To be implemented in September, the new standards are aligned with the National Strategy for Higher Education, as well as the UAE's drive to strengthen the quality and global reputation of its education sector.

"Students are our true wealth. They are the motivation behind all of our efforts. With the new standards, we look forward to creating a positive environment at higher education institutions, where graduates leave with in-depth knowledge, having developed the necessary advanced skills to meet the requirements of the future," Dr Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, said at the recent launch of the guidelines.

"We are confident that the coming years will see more UAE universities join the ranks of the world's top 100 universities, further enhancing the reputation of Emirati education and the opportunities it affords to students in the region and the world."

All types of higher education institutions - including government, private, specialised and free-zone universities and branches of global universities - will be covered by the new standards, the ministry said.

The guidelines apply to 11 aspects of universities' operations: Governance and administration; quality assurance; scientific and research activities; students; faculty; educational facilities; health, safety, and environment; legal compliance and public disclosure; educational resources; financial capacity and sustainability; and community service and integrity.

Dr Mohammed Ebrahim Al Mualla, Undersecretary for Academic Affairs of Higher Education, said: "What truly sets the new criteria apart is the fact that they embrace quality-based accreditation and licensing procedures, where higher education institutions are classified into several levels according to quality, and 'high-quality' institutions will be rewarded.

He added that besides ensuring that UAE universities are providing high-quality education, the standards were also launched to urge students and parents to enroll only in institutions that are accredited by the ministry.

"These add value to qualifications obtained from UAE institutions both locally and abroad, which, in turn, boosts students' and their parents' confidence in these institutions and enriches the educational system across the country," Dr Al Mualla said.

Mohammed Abdullah, managing director, Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Park

The new licensure and accreditation standards for higher education institutions under the Ministry of Education will further position the UAE as an international hub for higher education. In the past few years, the UAE has become a competitive destination for tertiary education, attracting key providers from around the world. We see vast potential for quality education on top of the UAE's growing attractiveness as a world-class business and tourism destination. Forward-looking initiatives such as this will help strengthen quality standards and will attract more transnational students from abroad, while boosting the international appeal of universities in the region.

Glyn Watson, provost, University of Birmingham Dubai

As a global Top 100 QS-ranked university that has just announced plans for a new state-of the-art campus in Dubai, which opens in 2021, the University of Birmingham welcomes any initiative that helps to raise the profile and quality of HEI provision in the UAE. It is good for the university, the country, and most important of all, students, who will be all the more employable in what is a very competitive jobs market. We are particularly supportive of the risk-based approach that the ministry appears to be taking to the new quality assurance regime.

Nitin Anand, executive director and chair, Executive Council of Skyline University College

The new accreditation and licensing scheme will improve the quality of education delivered by educational institutions. We can expect a great deal of improvements in terms of quality of infrastructure, faculty, student interactions, and programmes and degrees offered, which will not only earn recognition here in the UAE, but also internationally. This initiative will make the UAE an educational hub as this will innovate the teaching methodology in the country. This will definitely attract more students as this will make many academic institutions in the UAE at par with international universities.