Dubai's best and worst universities revealed in new league table

A higher education rating system was unveiled by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Dubai

DTD0RD Heriot-Watt University Dubai Campus in Academic City United Arab Emirates. Alamy
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The best and worst performing universities in Dubai have been named in a new higher education league table aimed at driving up standards and helping students make more informed choices.

The Higher Education Classification initiative, developed by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, provides a rating of 17 branch campuses of international universities across the emirate.

The one-to-five star system, announced by the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, judges universities on criteria such as teaching, employability, research, and internationalisation.

Other factors taken into consideration include the strength of education programmes, attention to well-being and inclusiveness.

The University of Manchester Worldwide, London Business School and Heriot-Watt University were the top three with five star ratings.


SP Jain School of Global Management and Amity University Dubai were among those with four stars.

Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology propped up the rankings after receiving just one star.

Randa Bessiso, director of The University of Manchester in the Middle East said the rating system would provide a vital measuring stick for institutions.

"The ranking is a sign of the increasing maturity of the sector and the new rankings provide a reassuring benchmark of quality for students looking at possible study options in Dubai," said Mr Bessiso.

"For the institutions, it provides an important measure of local performance and identifies areas for improvement."

He said the rankings would boost "transparency and help build trust and confidence in the universities here."

"It will also help improve the performance of the sector, build on Dubai’s reputation and help attract more high quality higher education providers," he said.

Student numbers in Dubai have increased from 12,000 in 2008 to almost 30,000 students in 2019.

Professor Christopher Abraham, head of the campus at SP Jain School of Management in Dubai, said the rankings will raise standards of higher education in Dubai.

SP Jain School of Management in Dubai was awarded four stars in the rankings.

"Students would have a benchmark so they can know which one is appropriate and that is where rankings become relevant," said Prof Abraham.

The university educates students from 30 countries and Prof Abraham believes the rankings could help many students from who have little knowledge about Dubai before moving here.

"It will be an eye-opener for many people who will come to know there are so many international campuses in Dubai," he said.

"This will boost the position of UAE and Dubai as an education hub.

"For us, this will be a huge benchmark in terms of what we should be doing and the areas we need to improve in."

Vajahat Hussain, chief executive officer of Amity Education Middle East, as also in favour of the new ranking system.

"Students look for international rankings and they have been given a very powerful tool so that they can choose the right university," said Mr Hussain.

"It helps us in student recruitment and it makes the choice easier for students.

"Dubai has come of age in the higher education sector. Already, the K-12 school sector is transparent and rated."

The university aims to work on improving its research facilities after securing a three-star rating.

"We are a young university in Dubai so we could not focus on research yet but our home campus is famous for research.

"You will see the faculty do amazing research projects."

This article originally said that University of Manchester was rated top, followed by London Business School and Heriot-Watt. They in fact rank equally, each with five star ratings. The other universities are also not ranked in order, but by star-rating.