Short list of universities make the grade, student says

When Majid Abdulla Al Hajri secured a scholarship for university, his sponsors had strict ideas about what UAE universities made the grade.

Majid Abdulla Al Hajri on campus at the American University of Sharjah. He is one of a growing number of Emiratis opting out of a free public education in favour of a private one. Lee Hoagland/The National
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SHARJAH // Without sponsorship from Dewa, Majid Abdulla Al Hajri, an engineering student at the American University of Sharjah (AUS), would have had to study at a federal university.

"AUS is known to have high fees so I started looking for sponsorship as soon as I left high school," he said.

The sponsorship has made him only too aware of how employers view private universities.

The list Dewa gave him of acceptable universities was short. It did not include the American University of Dubai or the American University in the Emirates. AUS was acceptable because it was well established and accredited in the US.

"Dewa has very strict sponsorship requirements and they actually recommend you go to AUS," he said. "You can't just go anywhere."

They do, however, allow sponsored students to go to federal university.

He believes that the emphasis at AUS on research and innovation, together with its established system and good reputation among employers in sectors from engineering to the media, help it to stand out from rivals.