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Students and universities in the UAE try to ease the financial burden.

The average cost of attending university in the UAE remains among the highest globally. But a top education official hopes recently introduced labour laws and the arrival of more student accommodation closer to campuses could ease the burden.

Dr Warren Fox, executive director of KHDA Higher Education was speaking after a recent HSBC report found parents in the UAE spend an average of Dhs67,000 per year on a child's higher education -- more than twice the global average of Dhs28,000.

"The prices for housing, petrol, transportation, and university accommodation are dependent on commercial reality," said Fox.

"So this is a continuing issue for students. One of the things for our hub to attract more students, would be to make some lifestyle options better for students -- more housing and accommodation closer to where they study, hopefully at affordable prices."


Among the universities trying to cut the cost of rent is Amity, which plans to double the size of its student residence to 700 flats within its new campus, consequently reducing transportation costs.

Amity dorms currently accommodate 350 students said Mariam Shaikh, Vice President for Student Recruitment and Admissions at Amity University.

Shaikh said that a student would need a budget of approximately Dhs68,000 to Dhs75,000 per year to manage tuition, housing and other living expenses that come with student life.

However, affordable housing prices are not the only method of easing students' financial issues.

New York University in Abu Dhabi offers fellowships and need-based grants to students who would not otherwise be able to afford the full cost of attendance, which is estimated at Dhs279,261 ($76,032) per year -- the same as the New York campus.

Anna Dechert, Director of Admissions at NYUAD said: "Every admitted student is also automatically considered for merit-based fellowships and UAE nationals are eligible for the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed NYUAD Scholarship for Exceptional Emirati Students, which covers the full cost of attendance."

She added: "In awarding financial support and scholarships, NYUAD takes into account the full cost of attendance, including tuition, housing on campus, meals, books, fees, flights to and from a student's home country or study location and other expected personal expenses."


Dubai now offers 26,000 university students access to part-time employment in 4,500 businesses. Until now, most have only been eligible for temporary roles like promotional work in malls and events that last a few days.

James Mullan, co-founder of said: "Dubai is not a cheap place to live, and crucially there will be less options for student style accommodation than in Europe.

"However, there are many good local universities outside of Dubai -- most notably in Sharjah, where costs are significantly less. Many students in the UAE come from across the Middle East because of international brands and obtaining a visa here can be easier than many European countries or the US."

Mullan said that cultural similarity is also an influence in attracting students.

"Parents of Middle Eastern students may be more comfortable to have their child studying in a Muslim country, and they may be more likely to have family here," he said.

"If they do, then probably the biggest cost, housing, will to a degree be covered. Given the recent decline in sterling it will be cheaper, tuition-wise, to study in the UK at the moment."

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Oct 30, 2016
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