UAE seen as one of the world’s top five education destinations

Study reveals UAE as leading education hub among emerging economies

The UAE is seen as the fourth most attractive education destination in the world for students seeking to pursue their studies abroad, and the most attractive education destination among emerging market economies – beating the likes of China, Singapore and Australia.

This is according to a survey of over 2,400 students and a cross-section of companies. The new research was released yesterday by Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), in conjunction with Deloitte.

The study, carried out by consultancy firm Deloitte, surveyed students across 17 markets in MEA and Asia and companies from a cross-section of industries to gather their perceptions on the UAE as a further education destination and to identify emerging trends, as well as existing skill shortages within the region’s workforce.

The survey was carried out to provide DIAC with the region’s most comprehensive, independent study regarding workforce skills gaps that currently exist within emerging markets. The aim of the study was to garner how students and businesses perceive the education landscape in the region, and to uncover how well the UAE’s current education programmes are serving the needs of industry.

The findings, officially revealed today during a panel debate at Going Global 2013 by Dr Ayoub Kazim, Managing Director of TECOM Investments’ Education Cluster (which includes DIAC and DKV) shows that in the minds of students and recent graduates, the UAE’s educational offerings have a stronger appeal than those in many other emerging education hubs.

Not only that, the UAE is recognised for its strength in science, finance, economics and management, despite the analysis of recruitment in the region which revealed that hiring in some sectors, particularly in banking and finance, remained muted in 2012 – suggesting an oversupply in the workforce. By contrast, a third of recruiters are struggling to recruit at junior levels within the legal industry, which suggests an undersupply in the workforce.

“The study will be hugely helpful to students and universities already based in the UAE and those considering opening up a campus here, as well as potential employers. It will also assist DIAC, and government entities, as we collectively seek to develop the country’s ‘knowledge economy’ and refine future workforce planning,” said Dr Ayoub Kazim.

“Armed with this information, DIAC can refocus its efforts to ensure it is fostering the growth of an education industry that is geared towards the needs of business and a diversified UAE economy. We will be able to screen potential academic partners using this evidence in order to emphasise that the courses offered are relevant and serve the needs of business.”

“We believe this report will be a stepping stone for workforce planning in the UAE and, more broadly, in the region. It highlights the importance of a coordinated approach for workforce planning, at a macro level – as it is done in other markets – and identifies a number of initiatives at an institutional level from industry-academia collaborations to apprenticeship frameworks,” said Emmanuel Durou, Consulting director at Deloitte Middle East.

“Our sectorial analysis has shown that while the UAE has built a strong perception as an educational hub in sectors such as tourism and hospitality, there remain some important workforce supply and demand gaps in a number of industries including energy and healthcare.”

According to the corporates surveyed within the study, there are 64 skills in high demand across a range of sectors including the skills required for entry level tourism and senior level telecom roles. There is potential to address some of the skill gaps identified by creating bespoke academic programmes and collaborating with existing academic partners to offer courses within the UAE or in the students’ home countries.

The findings of the report was released at Going Global 2013 - an annual conference hosted by the British Council, which offered an open forum for global leaders of international education to discuss issues facing the international education community.

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