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Universities for Expats in the United Arab Emirates

Submitted: December 2013

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers a wide array of higher education institutions.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research through its National Admissions and Placement Office (NAPO) oversees the application process into federal universities. Unfortunately, places at federal universities are reserved for nationals of the UAE or children whose mothers are nationals.

If you however meet the nationality requirements for admission into public universities, an overview of the admissions process can be found at the link below:

As access to these federal public universities is restricted, most expatriates and their children take advantage of one of the many private or independent (non-profit) universities which operate in the UAE. Among these include campuses of popular international universities such as Middlesex University Dubai, Paris Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi or Duke University Dubai. Typically these “branch campuses” offer postgraduate options. You can use the resource below in order to search for right programme and university for you/your children in Dubai:

There is a wide range of programmes available, with the most popular options being business programmes. Students can work towards Bachelor’s, Master’s and other postgraduate degrees. There are also numerous institutions of higher education which offer technical or vocational training such as the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (https://www.emiratesacademy.edu/en/Your-Study-Programmes/Undergraduate/) or the Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (https://www.kustar.ac.ae/).

The general entry requirements for most of these institutions include the secondary education certificate or its equivalent and letters of recommendation. Your secondary school qualifications will need to be attested to and depending on where your secondary school qualifications originate will determine the relevant body from which it must be attested by. For more information on this issue, please refer to the links below. Additionally, if English is not your native language, you may need an English language certification such as TOEFL. The general admission requirements for two of the leading private universities, the American University of Dubai and the American University of Sharjah can be found at the link below:

Tuition can be quite expensive, 40,000AED to 100,000 AED per year. This may vary depending on your course or the number of credits required. You can always enquire with prospective schools about any financial grants or scholarships that may be available.

The costs associated with going to university such as accommodation, study materials, meals and transport must also be factored into your budget. With regards to accommodation, some universities offer student housing which prices ranging from 22,000AED (shared room) to 40,000AED (single room) per year. The article below outlines some housing options for university students in Dubai:

If you are not a national of the UAE, you will be required to obtain a student residence visa in order to study. These visas last for 12 months and are renewable annually. Your student visa is usually sponsored by your prospective university, provided it meets the accreditation requirements.

For an overview of the student visa requirements, please refer to the following links:

For a complete list of universities in the UAE, please refer to the link below:



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