Pakistani university campus to open in RAK

Abasyn University will offer bachelor and degree courses to the 800 to 1,000 pupils who graduate from Pakistani curriculum high schools every year in the UAE.

Abasyn University will offer degree courses to the 800 to 1,000 pupils who graduate from Pakistani curriculum high schools in the UAE every year. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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RAS AL KHAIMAH // A new university in Ras Al Khaimah is giving students from low-income Pakistani families the chance of a higher education without having to return to their home country.

Abasyn University will offer degree courses to the 800 to 1,000 pupils who graduate from Pakistani curriculum high schools in the UAE every year.

Previously Szabist University in Dubai was the only Pakistani university in the emirates.

Fees at Abasyn, which also has campuses in Peshawar and Islamabad, start at Dh1,200 a month. This makes it more affordable than Szabist which charges Dh1,900, and Abasyn is significantly cheaper than other institutions.

On average, university fees in the UAE start at about Dh25,000 a year. However, for anything science or engineering based, costs can rise to more than Dh45,000.

The RAK campus, which accepts students of all nationalities, was given the go ahead by the higher education commission in Pakistan. It will open for the new academic year in September in the RAK Free Trade Zone Authority, which is working to implement a set of quality control standards based on those used in Dubai’s free zones under the Knowledge and Human Development Authority as it tries to expand its educational offerings.

Sajjad Hussein, the campus head, said there was a huge demand in the Pakistani community for affordable education.

A 2005 census found the Pakistani community was the second largest in the UAE after Indians, with about 1.25 million people living here.

Dr Mohammed Nawaz Brohi, campus director at Szabist, that now has enrolled 500 students, said he welcomed the new university.

“The Pakistani population in the UAE is growing, so we need to be sure to offer them affordable, good quality choices,” he said. “There are over 20 schools offering the Pakistani curriculum and Pakistanis are looking for higher education.”

In order to help people afford the fees, Abasyn, like Szabist, offers a monthly instalment scheme rather than asking for payment in advance for a term or academic year.

“Those who can afford it can choose from many places, but there is a community whose financial situation doesn’t allow them to afford even the lowest end of the fees,” said Mr Hussein. He added that it was vital to engage this segment of society.

“It’s through education and knowledge that people contribute well to the society. Without this, they get involved in negative activities when they’ve nothing to do, when they’re unemployed, uneducated,” he said.

The campus, which can accommodate 200 to 300 students per morning, afternoon or evening session, will offer full and part- time courses and is housed within a compound that includes two schools and the Birla Institute of Technology from India. There is also a mosque and canteen. A handful of students have already enrolled at Abasyn.

Initially only business, computing and commerce courses will be available. Officials will tour schools around the country to spread awareness before introducing more courses such as engineering and tourism.

Mr Hussein said one of his first tasks would be to dispel the “myth” about just how far away RAK is for potential students travelling from Dubai, Sharjah or Umm Al Quwain or further afield.

Mariam Shaikh, assistant vice president for marketing and recruitment at Amity University Dubai, an Indian branch campus, said she had seen great demand for higher education from the Pakistani community since the university opened in 2011.

“We have students from over 35 different nationalities on campus, with 18 to 20 per cent of these being Pakistani students.” She said that a large number of those were studying thanks to scholarships such as academic merit, girls or sports scholarships, highlighting the need to support students from less-affluent backgrounds.

“Amity Scholarships have been initiated to encourage the talents of such students thereby strengthening the roots of our future generations.”

Peter Fort, RAK free trade zone authority’s chief executive, welcomed the university’s opening in the emirate.

“Abasyn is adding to the portfolio of diverse academic institutions that are setting up in RAK, including École Polytechnique de Lausanne, Birla Institute of Technology, and the University of Bolton,” he said. “These universities are helping us establish a reputation as a regional and global centre for high-quality and accessible education.

“The opening of these and other campuses here also highlights the diversification of Ras Al Khaimah from its traditional manufacturing and industrial economic base to an emerging hub of academic research and higher learning.”