Hundreds of students from across the UAE have already applied to attend a new UK university campus opening in Dubai.
The University of Birmingham Dubai campus is scheduled to open in September and will be accepting about 3,000 students, offering a range of subjects from engineering to business.
Spectacular drone footage was released by the university to display the state-of-the-art campus in Dubai International Academic City.
Provost David Sadler told The National it was designed with a quadrant to replicate the historic centre at the heart of the University of Birmingham.
The facilities will include shaded open-air courtyard spaces and the buildings will be next to parkland offering sports pitches and an open-air event space.
"It has been designed to mirror Birmingham's iconic quadrangle at its core," Prof Sadler said.
“The way it looks is very distinctive. We have made a long-term commitment to be in the UAE. We will be growing to about 3,000 students in the next phase of our plans for further expansion and we have recruited staff from the UAE and academics from across the world.”
Two thirds of its students are from the UAE and it has attracted a lot of interest from India, China and the UK.
Last year, campuses of international universities across the UAE reported an increase in domestic enrolment because of the pandemic.
The University of Birmingham Dubai, the first top Russell Group university to open in Dubai, is also hoping to attract UK students for secondments from their business degrees.
“The UAE has handled the pandemic relatively well and having a strong vaccine programme it is recovering quickly and is keen to develop its higher education programme,” Prof Sadler said.
"We want to encourage undergraduates in the UK to consider completing one year of their degree in Dubai on the business courses here.
“The campus is fully on track and we are really excited to be moving into it. The pandemic remains central to our thinking, in common with the UK, and we have contingency plans in place but we do not expect it to affect the opening. We have incredibly stringent protocols and spend a lot of time talking to our students.”
The university, which opened in Dubai in 2018 and currently has 400 students, is hoping to move into research involving renewables and transport in the future and has the capacity to expand to 4,500 students.
UK education secretary Gavin Williamson last year told The National that encouraging British students to attend university in the Gulf plays a large part in his thinking.
“My dream is to see more British students going to the United Arab Emirates to be able to study there," he said.
"The UAE and the United Kingdom have such a long-standing historical partnership that has served both nations incredibly well and I think British students will very much benefit from being able to learn in the Emirates as part of that partnership.”
The University of Birmingham Dubai has been licensed by the UAE Ministry of Education.
University of Birmingham vice chancellor and principal professor, Sir David Eastwood, expects the new venture to flourish.
“We are a global university with a civic outlook and committed to contributing to UAE society – as a leading provider of education and through our research strengths,” he said.
“Under Prof Sadler’s leadership, I am certain that our Dubai campus will continue going from strength to strength – providing an academic experience that allows our Dubai students to develop and grow, graduating as high-achieving and employable problem solvers.”
The University of Birmingham was established by Queen Victoria in 1900 as Britain’s first civic university, where students from all religions and backgrounds were accepted on an equal basis.
Its researchers have received 11 Nobel prizes, from pioneering organ transplants, discovering gravitational waves and furthering understanding of Shakespeare, to developing cures for cancer, advances in robotics and revealing the structure of DNA.