UAE an attractive option for Indian engineering students

Indian students, drawn by job opportunities and lower costs, are choosing to study in Dubai in greater numbers, schools and officials say.

DUBAI - JUNE 7,2010 - Engineering students  Rohit Ratnaparkhi (left ) and Saurabh Ladha ( right ) share a moment  at BITS, Pilani School in Academic city ,Dubai ( Paulo Vecina/The National )
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DUBAI // Indian engineering students, drawn by job opportunities and lower costs, are choosing to study in Dubai in greater numbers, schools and officials say. Historically, many Indian and Asian students in fields such as engineering, medicine and management from the UAE, preferred to complete their educations in India. The is changing because the costs of education in India is rising. There is also stiff competition among students for available places, and universities are toughening up their entry requirements. The Dubai campus of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani, a prestigious Indian engineering college, reports that 40 percent of its 1,700 students are now from India. When the campus opened in 2006, just 12 of its 60 students were from India. "Living up to a big name can be a handicap," said the BITS Dubai director, Dr M Ramachandran. "We had to build trust, be true and show it would be a BITS education students received in Dubai in every respect." Nearly 450 BITS students secured paid internships this summer in the Dubai offices of engineering companies such as the German giant Siemens. More than 60 top overseas universities, including notable US schools such as Cornell, Purdue and Carnegie Mellon, have admitted BITS graduates to their master's programmes. That kind of international exposure attracted Rohit Ratnaparkhi, who attended high school in New Delhi. "Most students in India go for the college name and don't focus on their stream of interest," said the 20-year-old. "I'm keen on electronics and communication, but any random Indian college wouldn't do. "My marks were good, but not good enough [for a top Indian programme]. With 95 per cent you may stand a chance in Delhi University. With 90 per cent, it's touch and go." As many as 90 per cent of students at the 19 Dubai campuses of Indian institutions are Indians, said a consular official who asked not to be identified. Indian students say they would spend close to Dh140,000 in the UAE for a four-year engineering degree compared with four times that amount in the US. "The fee structure in Dubai is easier on the pocket than the US and UK, which are really high," said Saurabh Ladha, 19, a US national whose family lives in Goa, India. "I wanted to be in BITS since I was 12 because my father is a BITS alumnus, but I chose the Indian system because the undergraduate level grills you much more than the American system." Dr B Ramjee, the director of Manipal University, added: "Many prefer Dubai because of good quality education, the transition is easier because of the Asian culture and many view it as a stepping stone to moving to the West." Manipal's management, medicine, stem cell research and software classes are packed with students, and 90 per cent are drawn from the Emirate's Indian community. The university also has about 40 Indian female students who matriculated from Qatar and Bahrain. "Parents may have been wary in the past of universities operating here, but the perception has changed due to the legitimacy of institutions," Dr Ramjee said. rtalwar@thenational.ae

"Living up to a big name can be a handicap," said the BITS Dubai director, Dr M Ramachandran. "We had to build trust, be true and show it would be a BITS education students received in Dubai in every respect." Nearly 450 BITS students secured paid internships this summer in the Dubai offices of engineering companies such as the German giant Siemens. More than 60 top overseas universities, including notable US schools such as Cornell, Purdue and Carnegie Mellon, have admitted BITS graduates to their master's programmes. That kind of international exposure attracted Rohit Ratnaparkhi, who attended high school in New Delhi.

"Most students in India go for the college name and don't focus on their stream of interest," said the 20-year-old. "I'm keen on electronics and communication, but any random Indian college wouldn't do. "My marks were good, but not good enough [for a top Indian programme]. With 95 per cent you may stand a chance in Delhi University. With 90 per cent, it's touch and go." As many as 90 per cent of students at the 19 Dubai campuses of Indian institutions are Indians, said a consular official who asked not to be identified. Indian students say they would spend close to Dh140,000 in the UAE for a four-year engineering degree compared with four times that amount in the US. "The fee structure in Dubai is easier on the pocket than the US and UK, which are really high," said Saurabh Ladha, 19, a US national whose family lives in Goa, India.

"I wanted to be in BITS since I was 12 because my father is a BITS alumnus, but I chose the Indian system because the undergraduate level grills you much more than the American system. "The scales also tip in Dubai's favour because parents living in the region prefer having their children close at hand and worry they will not adjust in India after growing up in the Emirates." Dr B Ramjee, the director of Manipal University, added: "Many prefer Dubai because of good quality education, the transition is easier because of the Asian culture and many view it as a stepping stone to moving to the West." Manipal's management, medicine, stem cell research and software classes are packed with students, and 90 per cent are drawn from the Emirate's Indian community. The university also has about 40 Indian female students who matriculated from Qatar and Bahrain. "Parents may have been wary in the past of universities operating here, but the perception has changed due to the legitimacy of institutions," Dr Ramjee said. rtalwar@thenational.ae