Best known for the skyscrapers and superstar hotels of Dubai, the UAE is a place more and more international students are choosing as their destination for studying abroad. Many major universities are setting up campuses in the emirates, attracted by its development, sense of history and wealth.
How can you study a degree in the United Arab Emirates?
The UAE has a growing higher education sector, which is split between state-funded institution and private universities. The three state-funded universities that you can study a degree at in the United Arab Emirates are:
- Higher Colleges of Technology
- United Arab Emirates University
The following institutions are among the fifty private universities where you can study a degree in the United Arab Emirates:
- The American University of Sharjah
- University of Sharjah
Dubai International Academic City
One of the most popular reasons for studying a degree in the United Arab Emirates is the large number of foreign universities who have campuses in the Emirates, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Universities from the USA, UK and Europe are all setting up satellite campuses in the Emirates in an attempt to attract international students.
Course fees in the UAE are assessed in semester credit hours, with each course being made up of a certain number of credits. You should check how many credits you need to complete the course you’ve chosen.
Tuition fee costs in the UAE vary from institution to institution. You should expect to pay around USD$3,000 per year for courses at state universities, but undergraduate degrees at satellite campuses will be charged at the home university rate.
Immigration and visas
In order to study a degree in the United Arab Emirates, you will need to get both a student visa and be sponsored within the UAE. Most visas are only valid for one year at a time and will need to be renewed if your course lasts longer than that.
You will need to get sponsorship from someone living in the UAE, such as a relative, in order to get your visa. Your university should also be able to help you with sponsorship if required.
As a guide, you should expect to have to show the following:
- A confirmed place at an approved institution
- A letter of sponsorship from the university
- Funds to support yourself during your studies
A clean medical examination report from an approved UAE centre
You should always check the relevant details required to study in the United Arab Emirates from your country of origin.
Accommodation and living costs
Accommodation in the UAE is not cheap, particularly in major cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. There are two main options for housing when studying an undergraduate degree in the UAE:
- University accommodation – such as halls of residence
Private accommodation – House and flat rentals
Most international students coming to study in the UAE will live on campus in university accommodation. This is almost exclusively true for students from international universities who have degrees based in the UAE. The benefits of university accommodation include being able to meet other students easily, not have to worry about bills and live close to your lecture halls – a definite bonus in such a hot country.
Living costs: The UAE is not a cheap place for students, with food, rent and shopping all more expensive than many other Middle Eastern and Asian countries. Expect to spend heavily on transport too, with cars or private taxis being the most popular ways of getting around.
Rent: Although halls of accommodation are available in the UAE – particularly in satellite campuses – most international students choose to live privately.
As a guide, here is what you can expect to pay per month in rent in the UAE:
- 1 bed city centre apartment – 5,500 AED (£950)
- 1 bed outside city centre apartment – 3,300 AED (£580)
- 3 bed city centre apartment – 11,000 AED (£1,900)
- 3 bed outside city centre apartment –8,200 AED (£1400)
How safe is the UAE?
The UAE is an extremely safe society, where crime is treated very harshly. For such a highly industrialised nation, the UAE has relatively little crime. The crime international students are most likely to suffer is low level theft or pickpocketing.
However, it is worth noting that the UAE is an Islamic country and students going to study there need to be aware of cultural and legal rules that they might not see in their home countries. You should be aware that the UAE has a zero tolerance approach to drugs, with even minute amounts punishable by a minimum of four years in prison.
Students should always take precautions to make sure they stay safe. They should take care to:
- Avoid walking alone at night
- Always carry a charged phone
- Avoid potentially quiet/ dark shortcuts
- Avoid carrying a lot of cash
- Let friends know where they are going
- Always keep a close eye on personal belongings whilst out
Never accept things from strangers – whether this is a lift home or a drink
Staying in touch
Staying in touch when your child is studying on the other side of the world might seem daunting – but there are ways you can talk regularly that don’t have to involve long distance phone calls and a nasty bill at the end of the month. Here are a few tips:
- Skype – the free video calling service can be downloaded within seconds, and will allow you to talk face to face anywhere you have an internet connection
- Blogging – maybe encourage your child to keep a blog of their adventures overseas, so that other families members (such as grandparents) can keep up to date
- Local sim cards – it is also a good idea for your child to buy a phone with a local pay as you go sim card when they arrive so that they can text and call home without running up a bill
What to do next
If you wish to study abroad but are not sure about where, check our country guides. In addition, if you would like more information on studying in the United Arab Emirates, sign up for our Free Application Service and we'll be in touch promptly with information tailored for you.