Choosing to study abroad in the United Arab Emirates means immersing yourself in a culture that is simultaneously rooted in centuries of tradition and on the cutting edge of modern innovation and technology. Experience a totally different lifestyle while enjoying Dubai's wealthy playgrounds and discovering the less-explored mountains and oases of the UAE.
In between classes, you'll have a wide choice of ways to enjoy your time abroad. Whether you decide to trek through the desert, browse local markets (souks), and visit beautiful ancient mosques, or enjoy the beach and the top-notch shopping and restaurants located in some of the most incredible skyscrapers to ever be built, the United Arab Emirates has something to offer you no matter what your style is.
How to Enroll
Direct enrollment for international students wishing to study in the UAE is relatively straightforward. You simply need to apply to your university of choice by late spring (usually May/June) before your program starts.
In order to submit a completed application, you need to include your most recent academic certificate or transcript, academic references, and proof of English proficiency. Though Arabic is the most widely spoken language in the UAE, English is the language of education, meaning many schools only demand you know English in order to enroll; however, some state schools do also require Arabic proficiency, so make sure to check with the institution you wish to apply to in order to ensure you can adhere to its requirements.
If you are already studying at an institution in your home country with a direct exchange program, this may be one of the easiest ways to enroll in a UAE university. Many universities, especially in the US, have direct exchange programs with foreign institutions in which a certain number of students from each university will switch places for a semester. Since there are a limited amount of countries where you can go to through direct exchange, it is, unfortunately, possible that your school does not have an agreement with a UAE university in place.
Third Party Provider
A third party provider takes care of all the legwork for you when it comes to studying abroad. Simply tell them your country of choice, and they can arrange for you to spend a semester or year abroad while helping you take care of your accommodation, classes, and paperwork.
The costs of tuition for state institutions in UAE are relatively inexpensive compared to many universities in the US and the rest of Western Europe, though private universities tend to have significantly higher costs. Since tuition varies a lot among universities, check costs and find out if you will be attending a private or state university before enrolling.
The average tuition for 'state' universities is around $2,500 to $3,000 per year. Depending on the duration of the degree you want to complete, this means a full university education in the UAE will run around 20,000 to 40,000 AED (UAE Dirham), or $5,500 to $10,000. However, if you are enrolling for a term at a private institution or in a satellite campus of your home university, you should expect to pay roughly the same rates as you would at your home institution.
Cost of Living
The UAE has a booming economy, which means the cost of living is continuously increasing. At the moment, universities recommend around $1300 to $1500 a month to rent an apartment. You can also opt to share an apartment for around $400 to $500 per person, an option many university students choose.
Students are also recommended to put aside another $500 a month for expenses including food, entertainment, and health. This will provide a pretty basic, comfortable lifestyle in the UAE, though if you plan to frequent many of the elite hotels, restaurants, and nightlife options of cosmopolitan cities such as Dubai, you will need a significantly larger amount.
In order to get a student visa, you need to get sponsored by either a resident of the UAE or the university to which you have applied. The cost of the visa is pretty steep, as students need to spent $820 just for the application, in addition to a $270 deposit. You do not get the application fee back if your student visa is denied, and there is no guarantee of acceptance.
In addition to the application fee, you need to submit 12 photographs, four passport copies, the admission letter from your UAE university, and a copy of any visa and tuition fees you have paid. It is recommended that you rent an apartment before arriving in the country, so you can also submit your tenancy agreement and bank statement (which prove you have adequate funds to stay in the UAE) when applying for your visa. Student visas are usually issues for one year, and are then subject to renewal.
If you get an approved student visa, you should also expect a health exam when you enter the UAE -- note that if you test positive for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tuberculosis, or leprosy, you will be deported.
Search the scholarships listed on the Go Overseas scholarship page, or look at the scholarships on the international student page of the university you will be attending in the UAE. If you are using a third party provider or secured your study abroad placement through your university's direct exchange program, check with their offices for available scholarships as well.
The UAE is generally not a top destination for students wishing to study abroad, which puts you at an advantage for some government and private scholarships. Many scholarships exist to encourage students to study in less-travelled areas, so they will be open to applications from those studying in places like the UAE.
Oldest University in UAE
The university system in the UAE is relatively new, so there are no modern universities currently operating more than a few decades old. The oldest of these universities is United Arab Emirates University, established in 1976 by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan after the UAE won its independence from Britain.
Sheikh Al Nahyan is considered the founding father of the UAE, and the university he established became the first government-funded institution of higher education in the country, soon to be followed by two more government universities.
United Arab Emirates University is located in Al Ain, an oasis near the nation's capital of Abu Dhabi. It has 6,700 students living on campus, including undergraduates from 59 countries in addition to the UAE. The diverse student body of the university makes it an appealing choice for international students, which make up over 25% of the student body.
The university is ranked first in the country, and many graduates of United Arab Emirates University have gone on to become major business leaders, diplomats, and ministers in the country.
Biggest University in UAE
The biggest university in UAE is probably Ajman University, with a student population of 8,500. Most UAE universities like to keep their campuses and student bodies relatively small, so there are plenty of prestigious universities with student bodies around 6,000 to 7,000 all over the UAE, such as Zayed University.
Ajman boasts nine different colleges offering different degrees and academic tracks, including engineering, dentistry, education, law, business administration, information technology, mass communication, health studies, and general studies.
The institution was founded in 1988, and is ranked 11th among UAE universities. It offers 34 undergraduate programs and 11 graduate programs, so students have plenty of choices in terms of academics.
Quirkiest Degree You Can Earn in UAE
Of the programs reviewed on Go Overseas, the Bachelor of Science in Design Management is one of the quirkiest degrees offered by the prestigious American University of Sharjah.
Students who want to obtain the degree take both design and business classes, with the goal of understanding how to manage creative processes, and also how to design can impact and facilitate entrepreneurship. This is actually a great degree for those who feel that they are both creative and business-minded individuals.