Higher Education in the United Arab Emirates

At the tertiary level, numerous institutions are available to the student body. In 1976, the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) was established in Al Ain in Abu Dhabi Emirate. Consisting of nine colleges, it was considered by the UAE government to be the leading teaching and research institution in the country. More than 14,000 students were enrolled at UAEU in the first semester of the academic year 2006-7.

In 1988, the first four Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) were opened, in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. By the academic year 2014-15, 17 campuses offered more than 75 programs, with a combined enrollment of more than 17,000 men and women. The commercial arm of the HCT, the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training, is allied with multinational companies to provide training courses and professional development. In 1998, Zayed University was opened, initially for women only, with campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. A US $100.7 million purpose-built campus in Dubai opened in 2006. Zayed University accepted select groups of male students starting in 2008, and now has a significant number of male students.

American University in Dubai opened its doors in 1995 to join the successful ranks of its much older regional counterparts in Cairo and Beirut. Dubai is a center for several international universities, including branches of the U.S.-based universities Michigan State University and Rochester Institute of Technology. Another institution based on American-style higher education, the American University in the Emirates opened in 2006. Through free zones designated for educational institutions (Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Village), Dubai also hosts many universities from other countries, including India, Pakistan, and the U.K.

In Abu Dhabi, New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) opened the first branch of an accredited U.S. university in 2005. Another New York-based institution, New York University (NYU), accepted its first class of students to its Abu Dhabi campus in fall 2010. After seven hundred years and a very distinguished record in Paris, Université Paris-Sorbonne opened its first campus abroad in Abu Dhabi in 2006. Although its focus is largely on the arts and humanities, Emirati students attending international universities locally commonly prefer business, science, engineering and computers programs.

The UAE's first medical school, Gulf Medical University, opened in 1998 in the Emirate of Ajman. It welcomes both genders and all nationalities. Originally known as Gulf Medical College, it expanded in 2008 to include dentistry, pharmacy and other programs in association with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

In 2003 Dubai established a dedicated education zone, Dubai Knowledge Village. The 1 km long campus brings together globally recognized international universities, training centers, e-learning, and research and development companies in one location. As of early 2007, it had attracted 16 international university partners, which include Saint-Petersburg State, University of Engineering and Economics, University of Wollongong, Mahatma Gandhi University, and the Manchester Business School. Some of these institutions have since moved to a larger free zone in Dubai, Dubai International Academic City.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research is the government ministry concerned with higher education. The Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA), a department in the Ministry, licenses institutions and accredits degree programmes. Institutions based in free zones do not need to seek CAA approval.