As a popular destination for international students, Dubai sees a lot of international students come every year. They have a number of university programs available, ranging from formal education to other subjects like the arts.
But as with any major career move, it has its own pros and cons. From a robust selection of courses, to things like the cultural shock, here is a look at the nuances involved when it comes to studying in Dubai.
Education in Dubai
Dubai has around seventeen international schools for foreign students looking to study here. Most of these schools have been rated as an outstanding school for years.
These schools are ensured by Dubai’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and other accrediting agencies.
In terms of programs, Dubai’s universities offer a lot of study programs that any student could ask for. They offer courses in Business Administration, Engineering, Design, Psychology, Hospitality, Culinary, Data Science, Acting, and more.
They primarily have two intakes a year, with one starting in January or February or in September or October. There are a few schools who may have an intake in December.
The Advantages of Studying in Dubai
1. Requirements can be quite lenient
For international students studying in Dubai, they are usually not required to take standard English-proficiency tests like IELTS, PTE, or TOEFL. This makes it easier to get into a good college when compared to a place like the USA, Australia, or the UK.
Students can also use certificates from any English medium school alongside their other academic merits when they’re applying.
International students will also need a student visa in order to study in Dubai. Fortunately, your preferred institutions do have the authority to apply on your behalf.
You can get your visa in a rather timely manner as well. It usually takes 20-25 working days to process.
Just remember to have at least AED 30,000 as well as all the necessary bank and academic records. Students are also required to pay AED 3,000 in order to apply.
2. Accessibility of accommodation
As a foreign student studying away from the country, finding a home away from home comes as the first challenge. Fortunately, it’s not a big problem in Dubai.
There are plenty of accommodation types available for students both in-campus and off-campus. You can easily find an apartment that will work for your budget.
Whether you want to stay off-campus or on-campus is up to you. Both types will cater to different types of needs and preferences.
University housing comes with some distinct benefits. For one, you’re in school so you don’t have to worry about getting to your classes on time, provided you wake up early.
Some on-campus accommodations may also not charge for other utilities like internet use and your water. Depending on how much you typically pay for some of these utilities, you may be able to save money on this every year.
On the other hand, you typically get a bit more control over your space with off-campus housing. You don’t have to worry about inviting friends and relatives over to stay.
Staying with roommates can also help bring down your rent and utility costs, depending on how many people you are able to share the room with.
3. Availability of work opportunities for international students
Until recently, overseas students couldn’t do part-time work – but that has changed. By getting a work permit from the UAE Labour Department, overseas students can take up part-time jobs and internships while studying.
Of course, students will need university sponsorship as well as comply with all of their respective university’s requirements.
Once they have gotten approved, they will be able to find multiple opportunities both on and off-campus. Students can choose to work part-time or with various departments in the school.
This can help add a lot of exposure and experience to a student’s resume, helping their applications stand out more.
Of course, student visas are still not allowed for full-time work in Dubai. Students will just need to wait until they have finished school and gotten the correct visa.
The Disadvantages of Studying in Dubai
1. Cultural shock
The primary disadvantage of moving to a different country for school is the culture shock. Dubai might be a bit more liberal than other emirates but it still has its own unique cultural rules to keep in mind.
For one, clothing tends to be a lot more modest, with many places requiring a certain level of coverage.
And while drinking at bars and pubs is a typical after-school or after-exam pastime, students may want to turn it down a bit. For one, you may be arrested for acting drunk and unruly in public.
Public displays of affection are also forbidden when it comes to non-married couples, regardless of gender.
Students looking into studying in Dubai may also want to brush up on different Islamic festivals and celebrations. You will need to comply with certain rules during holidays like Ramadan.
2. Getting around Dubai
This is particularly relevant for people who stay off-campus in Dubai. During your first few years, getting around the city can be quite challenging if you’re new.
Some expats have definitely found Dubai’s address listings to be quite difficult to navigate at first, especially if you rely on public transportation.
Taxis are convenient for moving to and fro but depending on the distance, the fare can be expensive for you.
Fortunately, you do have some affordable and reliable options. The Dubai Metro and the other buses are quite reliable, and when coupled with the well-maintained roads, should allow you to move around the city in a convenient way.
It’s definitely a problem that will diminish over time but newcomers will do well to keep this in mind.
3. Hot climate may not be for everyone
Lastly, Dubai can be quite hot. It’s not uncommon to experience high temperatures reaching up to 40°C even when sitting in the shade outside.
Most universities and establishments in Dubai are air-conditioned for this reason. Still, students with conditions that might be aggravated by the heat may want to keep this in mind.
When it comes to educational opportunities, Dubai certainly offers a lot of benefits. Their schools have a good curriculum and the social life is very vibrant and thriving.
Just remember to be respectful when it comes to the local laws and traditions as well as the environmental challenges, and you should be able to make the most of your education in Dubai.