Thoughts

Why universities in the UAE suck

The UAE is still at a weak level of higher education. Even the glorious “best” in the country fail to compete on an international level, which is shameful for a country filling up the Guinness World Record’s book. Weak education is not a problem that is  easily fixed by throwing money at it.

UAE universities love playing switcheroo with students, by hiring expensive and highly qualified teachers at the first year of a cycle, then swapping them with cheap ones for the remaining years of the cycle, thus cutting costs and profiting from the student’s all-in commitment to their infamously high university fees. They also give payment facilitations that extend further than a cycle, to deter the students from jumping to other universities.

Transferring credits from one university to another is so hard that the process mostly ends up with a time and financial loss to the student. Also, the government-enforced student visa rules makes it another hassle to do so. This helps prevent competition, and low competition leads to low, or no, increase in education quality.  I don’t want to accuse all universities of price-fixing or similar conspiracies, but something’s definitely going on in the background. Come to think of it, who exactly can get a license to open a university and who’s the common beneficary in all of them?

The government enforces backwards and outdated rules on most, if not all, universities such as attendance tracking (kicked out for 6–8 absences), and exam based scoring rather than assignment/research/project based. This is to prevent their very few citizens, who are only 10% of the population and only a portion of who study locally, that get their education paid by the government, from buying their way into passing (paying outrageous amounts to colleagues to do their projects), and/or not attending at all and wasting the government funding.

Sport and social facilities are still, to this date (2019), considered “a waste of time” and a diversion culturally, academically and economically. Many of the “top” universities in the UAE still don’t allow the mixing of the two sexes in a classroom, unless it saves money. Hypocrisy. They might aswell hang up signs saying “don’t gather unnecessarily” and  “don’t breed here”.

I’m afraid that the main reason for all of the above is the fact that the population consists of 90% expats. This means that 90% of students are not citizens. That’s what is keeping universities in the UAE to be considered as cash printing machines rather than the rise of a nation. Expats were never considered part of the nation, and anyways, the 10% of the student base who are citizens are mostly sent abroad, fully government funded and incentivised, for a proper education.

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