UAE university department ranks among top 25 worldwide

Eight departments at universities in the Emirates break into the top 200

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A department at a university in the UAE is ranked among the top 25 in the world.

The petroleum engineering department at Khalifa University was rated 21st worldwide, a jump from its former position of 28th, in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021.

Universities in the country recorded their best performance to date in the renowned rankings, with eight new departments entering the global university table.

UAE universities improved rankings in traditional areas, including engineering and computer science, but also broke ground in departments such as art, design and architecture.

UAE University’s petroleum engineering department ranked among the top 100 globally, while the same department at the University of Sharjah placed in the top 150.

The performance of 35 departments at six of the country's universities were assessed for the rankings. A total of 14,435 programmes taken by students at 1,452 universities worldwide were included in the study.

Quacquarelli Symonds, a global education research consultancy, compared the world’s higher education institutions on four criteria marked out of 100.

Researchers reviewed the universities' academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations and the productivity and impact of the published work of a scientist or scholar.

"One major factor behind the improving performance of the UAE's universities is increasing employer recognition of the nation's graduates," said QS spokesman Jack Moran.

“In last year’s edition of our rankings, only five of the UAE’s programmes received a score of 70 out of 100 or more for employer reputation.

"This year, three more of the UAE's departments attained a score of 70 out of 100 or more for employer reputation, which indicates that employers around the world are more likely to nominate the country's graduates as being strong hires."

We are aware we are sitting at the same table with the top countries in the world

Mr Moran said some UAE universities also improved their research performance this year and that local institutions would benefit from continuing to think globally.

"This means collaborating internationally on research projects, trying to attract top talent from around the world – students and academics," he said.

Apart from engineering departments, universities in the country were recognised for their arts and humanities programmes. The art and design and architecture departments at American University of Sharjah placed in the top 200 worldwide.

UAE University entered the top 100, placing in the 51-100 band for its petroleum engineering programme.

American University of Sharjah has one of the world’s best accounting and finance programmes, placing in the 151-200 bracket.


Emad El-Najjar, Mechanical Engineering Department; stand by the distilling station at UAE University lab, where he's part of a research team that investigates the utilization of date pits to produce biodiesel. 

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

Reporter: Daniel Bardsley
Section: NA

Philip Purnell, head of rankings at UAE University, said he was happy the university entered the rankings in two new subjects: petroleum engineering and arts and humanities.

UAE University improved its position in eight areas and was ranked for 16 subjects.

"We are aware we are sitting at the same table with the top countries in the world," Mr Purnell said.

"There has been a lot of investment in terms of technology, we have a new dean and the level of student learning has been enhanced."

He said the university would focus on medicine, space, cultural heritage, arts and humanities. It is also seeking to increase international collaboration and partnerships.

"We are going expand the college of medicine and will try to broaden the range of subjects," he said.

Mr Purnell said there had been a steep increase in research published in leading international journals, which helped to boost the university's position.

The university is also involved in the Phase 3 trials for the Russian Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, with some tests being conducted at the university's laboratories.

At a global level, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were the strongest-performing institutions and ranked No 1 in 12 subjects.

The UK's higher education sector performed well, with 13 of the 51 subject tables topped by a British university.

The University of Oxford had five departments that earned the top ranking.

Chinese universities had a record number of programmes that made the top 50.