UAE's best universities: Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi

The National's guide to universities in the Emirates continues with this French institution established in 2006

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As thousands of final-year students in the UAE submit their applications to local universities, we take a look at some of the best higher education options in the Emirates and what they have to offer

Where is it from?

Paris, which is nicknamed the City of Light thanks to its central role in the Age of Enlightenment in the mid-18th century and its early adoption of gas-street lighting.

When was it founded?

1257 (parent university); 2006 (Abu Dhabi campus)

What is it?

Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi was set up as a branch of Paris’s College of Sorbonne, which was established in the 13th century by Robert de Sorbon, the chaplain to Louis IX.

While many universities in the UAE focus on business, engineering and other technical subjects, Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi is particularly strong in the arts, humanities and sciences.

It occupies a large, customised campus.

Where is it based?

Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi

What are examples of the fees?

Dh48,700 – diploma in intensive French (one year)

Dh215,000 – all bachelor’s degrees (three years)

Dh143,400 – master in applied sociological research (two years)

Dh166,400 – master in international business law (two years)

What subject areas does it teach?

Bachelor’s degrees include: applied foreign languages; economics and management; French literature; geography and planning; history; history of art and archaeology; law; mathematics with specialisation in data science for artificial intelligence; philosophy and sociology; physics; and records management and archival science.

Master’s degrees include: applied foreign languages; applied sociological research; banking and finance; environment; environmental sustainability law and policies; health economics; history of art and archaeology; history of art and museum studies; international business law; international law; international relations and diplomacy; marketing; management; communication; media; physics; records management and archival studies; teaching French as a foreign language; and urban planning and development.

What it doesn't teach?

Accountancy; agriculture; anthropology; biochemistry; biology; chemistry; criminology; dentistry; engineering; filmmaking; geology; journalism; marketing; medicine; music; politics; psychology; sports science; and veterinary medicine.

Where is it ranked globally?

83rd – QS World University Rankings (parent university)

88th – Times Higher Education World University Rankings (parent university)

Who goes there?

There are 1,065 students, 64 per cent of whom are Emiratis. Overall, there are students from 61 nations.

Who has gone to the parent university?

- Simone de Beauvoir, a French author best known for her book The Second Sex, which was highly influential in the feminist movement.

- Enis Batur, a celebrated Turkish author, essayist and poet.

- Christiane Taubira, born in French Guiana. She studied sociology at the Sorbonne and was the French Minister of Justice between 2012 and 2016.

A note from Prof Silvia Serrano, vice chancellor of Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi:

"Sorbonne university Abu Dhabi is a research-led university. We are proud to fulfil our mission by acting as a beacon of knowledge in the Middle East by bringing the expertise in education and academic excellence of Sorbonne University in Paris to the region.

"Besides awarding our students French degrees that are recognised worldwide, we aim to provide students with world-class education that equips them with the right tools and research methodologies, and develops their critical thinking skills, all of which will enable them to become successful decision-makers and take the lead in knowledge development in the future.

"Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi also offers outstanding students a wide variety of scholarships and preferential rates and presents an overall exceptional university experience.

"In addition, Sorbonne University students and graduates benefit from the university’s strong industry links through internships, career opportunities and professional exposure."

Updated: April 22, 2022, 4:00 AM