University moves to Dh200m campus and opens schools

Ashwaq Bin Qafleh, an Emirati forensic science student, working in the forensic lab at Amity University in Dubai International Academic City.
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DUBAI // Amity University is to move to a purpose-built Dh200 million campus.

The institution has only been open in Dubai International Academic City for two years.

The India-based university, which has eight campuses around the world, has also announced plans to accommodate younger people - in its first UAE school, due to open in Abu Dhabi next year. A second school, in Dubai, is due in 2015.

The Dh250m Abu Dhabi school - the foundation's first outside India - is to be in Al Bahya, near Yas Island, and would eventually have places for 3,000 pupils. Building work is due to begin this year.

Vahajat Hussain, president of the Dubai university campus, said there "is a real need for more schools" in Abu Dhabi. "There are many more residential areas being developed over there."

Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) has said it would need about 100 new schools for about 146,000 pupils in the next seven years.

Some of the demand would come from the several thousand government employees who are being required to move to Abu Dhabi from other emirates.

Amity International School is one of three new foreign schools expected to open in the capital.

Two British boarding schools, Cranleigh and Repton, are also set to open branches. Repton, which already has a branch in Dubai, is to open on Reem Island in September, while Cranleigh is due to open on Saadiyat Island next year.

Dr Ajit Nagpal, chairman of Amity Middle East, said the group was "diversifying, not limiting ourself to higher education. It's an endowment and a commitment to the society". He added that Amity, which has 17 schools and preschools in India, was also considering nurseries in the UAE.

Atul Chauhan, the chancellor of Amity international, said pupils graduating from Amity schools would be natural candidates for the university.

"It's a big thing for parents to think that the students can continue in the same system and come to the university," he said. Pupils will study for British GCSEs and then the International Baccalaureate. "Parents seem to like that continuity, and in India it's been very popular."

The new university campus will include research facilities. Amity offers undergraduate and postgraduate science subjects including aerospace engineering, nanotechnology, nuclear technology, biotechnology and forensic science.

"The new campus will have state-of-the-art laboratories so we can focus very much on research," said Mr Chauhan. "The problem with branch campuses around the world is they are teaching institutions and this is where we are different. We are research focused."

And while it is looking to conduct research in areas expected to be key to the UAE's post-oil economy, such as nuclear and semiconductor technology, Mr Hussain admitted the university had struggled to attract students in those areas.

"When we meet students in the schools, a lot of that requires telling them, for example, that in five years the UAE will have a nuclear plant," he said. "It's helping show them the career choices they need to make for the job market of five years' time, not just now."