“Considering the fact that immigration policies in the US and some European countries have become stricter in the last couple of years, Dubai is a great alternate option,” Dr. Cedwyn Fernandes, director of Middlesex University Dubai, told Arab News.
“For most nationalities, a student visa is issued within two weeks, and the rejection rate is negligible.”
He said the UAE has emerged as one of the most important educational hubs in the world, and hosts around 27 international branch campuses from 12 countries — the highest number of international campuses in any country.
“As the host of such a wide range of internationally renowned branch campuses, the UAE attracts students from South Asia and surrounding Arab countries,” Fernandes added.
“Students in branch campuses study the same curriculum and obtain a similar degree to a student studying in the main campus. Some of the universities even provide an option for students to transfer to their main campus.”
Despite securing admission to Hennepin Community College in Minnesota, Abu Dhabi-based Adel Samir Hammoud’s student visa application to the US was rejected twice.
“It’s very frustrating,” said the 17-year-old Lebanese student who was born and raised in the UAE.
“I have no option other than to apply again next year. But this time I’ll opt for universities in the UK, and if I’m rejected I’ll continue my studies in the UAE. I can’t afford to waste my time anymore.”
According to Hammoud, many of his Arab friends face the same situation. “Things are becoming difficult in the West, especially in the US, which was once academic heaven,” he said. “Now we (Arab and Asian students) have to find alternative places to pursue our dreams.”
Fernandes said the reduced cost of education, a low crime rate and geographical proximity are other factors attracting students to the UAE.
Maryam Faisal, a 20-year-old Indian who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia and moved to Dubai two years ago to study medicine, said: “Going to India for a degree was never on the cards because of the academic system there, which is very different from American and British education. And going to the US or UK is not just an expensive affair but also very far.”