Some universities in the UAE have reduced fees by up to 50 per cent to help families cope with the financial strain caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The discounts come as higher education institutions try to hang on to the best talent and attract high achievers in a time of financial uncertainty.
Last year, many universities in Dubai cut fees to ease financial pressures on students and their families.
Now that trend is being seen widely across the country.
Middlesex University in Dubai this week announced that all high-school leavers in the UAE are eligible for a 15 per cent discount.
But high-achieving applicants in the UAE who score two A* in their A-levels, more than 38 points in their International Baccalaureate diploma, or 95 per cent in the Indian equivalent CBSE exams, will get discounts of 50 per cent on their entire course of study.
The annual fee for a bachelor's degree in business management at the university is Dh55,700, but those with top marks would have to pay only Dh27,850.
The discounts are applicable to new undergraduate students, Emiratis and expat residents. International students are eligible for country-specific grants.
"We want to attract really high-calibre academic students to the university," Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, pro vice-chancellor at Middlesex University Dubai, told The National.
“One of the challenges in the pandemic was that the payment capacity of guardians and of students was impacted.
“For the students not eligible for the academic excellence scholarships ... during these difficult times, the discounted fees make it more affordable to join the university."
He said the university also offered generous payment plans and aid to help students on a case-by-case basis.
“We give out Dh30 million in grants and scholarships annually,” he said.
This year, 3,883 students are enrolled at the Middlesex University Dubai, while between 1,800 and 2,000 new students will join every year.
Undergraduate students paying already discounted fees at the university can normally expect a bill of Dh120,00 to Dh140,000 for three years of study.
High achievers could at times pay Dh60,000 to Dh80,000 for the duration of their three-year course.
Ajman University also announced an early-bird discount for admission to its undergraduate and graduate programmes.
Undergraduate students who return for their master’s will get a 50 per cent discount for the first year of their graduate programmes.
Those looking for early admission could also find fees reduced if completed by May 6.
These students would also have admission fees waived.
Students at Ajman University's College of Medicine pay Dh82,500 in a foundation year, while first-year fees are Dh121,000.
“We have to be aware of the financial burden parents are facing and help them as much as possible," said Dr Karim Seghir, chancellor of Ajman University.
Dr Seghir said the university also provided screening and vaccination facilities to the community.
"These [discounts] are for the first year of study but students who get good GPAs [grade point average] will be be able to maintain these benefits throughout their studies."
There are 6,078 students enrolled at Ajman University.
Canadian University Dubai will also be giving discounts this year in the summer and autumn term.
In March, Birla Institute of Technology and Science , Pilani's campus in Dubai said it would offer merit scholarships worth Dh5million to students applying for admission in September 2021.
Prof R N Saha, director of the Dubai campus, said: “We have designed the scholarships in a way so that 80 per cent of the students can avail of a merit scholarship at least for their first year of study.
“Our scholarships are not only limited to the tuition fees, but also extend to hostel fee concessions.”