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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 02/09/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Emirates education authorities are focusing on Research and Business Development to commercialise technology and part-time work/study policy.The UAE is currently ranked the fourth most attractive education destination in the world according to the Workforce Planning study conducted by Deloitte. Dr Ayoub Kazim Managing Director Education Cluster Dubai Knowledge Village (DKV) and Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) shares his views on the new programmes and initiatives to support the UAE leadership’s vision for a knowledge-based economy. “We have 45 new programmes offered by our academic partners this year of which 14 are undergraduate 29 postgraduate and the remaining doctorate programmes being offered by the British University in Dubai (BUiD). The programmes are in several disciplines which assures diversity and meets market needs” he says.

Besides business programmes there are going to be programmes in education early childhood education and structural engineering. “BUiD is going to offer PhD programmes in information technology. Niche programmes such as molecular biology and genetics are also going to be offered by Manipal University. Now there is an element of diversity — science engineering education business among other disciplines which is great” Dr Kazim adds.

The goal is to fulfil market needs and expectations. “We want to focus on sectors contributing to the economy. Initially our focus was on engineering technology. An example of diversification is the programme on Islamic Economy a topic as per the direction and vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The vision was set more than a year ago to transform Dubai to be the hub for the global Islamic Economy. We need to work very closely with our academic providers and the industry on how to fulfil this vision. Programmes are needed to uplift the skill sets of working professionals as well as to create human capital needed to support the industries. For us it is important to look at the direction set by the leadership. We work closely with government authorities as well as the industry” Dr Kazim explains.

He continues: “We want to focus on an initiative with academic partners and industries. The initiative is called I-UP ‘Industry University Partnership’ forum that will be held on December 10. The main goal is to bring academia government authorities and industries on to one platform where they can engage in discussions have networking opportunities assess the needs of growing industries and discuss how universities could fulfil the needs of the industry. New Courses

New Programmes:

>Total: 45

>Undergraduate: 14

>Postgraduate: 29

>Doctorates: 2

Degree Programmes

>Total: 381

>Undergraduate: 176

>Postgraduate: 191

>PhD: 14 “We need to add another component in the I-UP Forum which is R&D. Personally I would like to call it R&BD (Research and Business Development) which is how to commercialise technology. We invite not only partners but also universities in the country to participate and discuss with industries. It could be on scholarships and internship programmes looking at the welfare of students and the academic community” he adds.

When asked about facilities provided to attract more universities Dr Kazim replies: “This is a free zone so it has all the advantages of tax-free assets free movement of capital and foreign ownership. Universities can interact with each other within the academic zone. For example two academic institutions from different zones of the world are next to each other. One of them is from Australia and the other one is from the UK. Which means 20 hours in terms of distance but now they are next-door neighbours in the education ecosystem. There is research collaboration sharing facilities course development student and faculty exchange opportunities between universities. It facilitates internationalisation of educational institutions.”

Dr Kazim adds: “We share the results of research studies conducted and see which areas universities could focus on in terms of programme offerings. After acquiring the licence from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) universities can offer their programmes. Branch campuses in the UAE serve not only the local market needs but the regional market as well. We facilitate government services and visa facilities for students provide infrastructure in terms of facilities for staff and students like food courts and recreation areas. We have a student hub a department dedicated to serve students that promotes activities for social interaction. The university has the option of leasing the space and then starting the operation.”

Elaborating on future plans Dr Kazim says: “We are moving gradually to student recruitment. We do promote our academic partners throughout the year by taking part in different events to ensure their visibility. We have participated in 55 to 60 conferences and exhibitions both locally and internationally. So on an average it works out to one event a week.”

Speaking about challenges Dr Kazim notes that the main challenge is regarding R&BD. “Majority of the institutions are research-based and they would require funding for such activities mainly for postgraduate students and faculty members. With the I-UP Forum it will be a step in the right direction for a dialogue or discussion on how to take this matter forward for the benefit of all concerned. — in four criteria — teaching research publications community and university services.

According to him “the authorities are looking at part-time work/study policy hopefully to be adopted for example permitting work for say 20 hours similar to UK/US/Australia and other developed countries.”

Another challenge is regarding competition among academic providers. “Academic institutions are offering similar programmes. As a result there is saturation in some disciplines and business is becoming cutthroat. We are urging universities to look at their portfolio like for example at their conventional business programmes. Currently the focus should be on hospitality and tourism one of the key sectors or Islamic Economy as discussed earlier. Dubai is talking about being a Smart City and this is an area in which BUiD is offering programmes leading to PhD in information technology. We are looking at vocational education as well” he continues.

Majority of the students are from the sub-continent. “We encourage diversity in our academic zones with over 140 nationalities. We have students from India Pakistan Sri Lanka and GCC and the Middle East. Now students from Central Asia Kazakhstan and other countries like Russia are opting to study here. Dubai is considered to be an education destination UAE being the fourth most sought after education destination in the world by students in the region. For students to get a visa it normally takes 10 to 14 days for processing” Dr Kazim concludes.

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