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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

U.A.E. Education Ministry Closes 6 Universities, Puts Another 6 on Probation

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DUBAI—The United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Education has revoked the licenses of six universities and put another six on probation after it said the institutions failed to meet quality and accreditation standards.

Several of the institutions affected by the clampdown are international branch campuses. Local observers see the regulatory move as a useful international signal that the U.A.E. takes education quality control seriously. (See a related article, “A Regional Survey: How Arab Countries Regulate Quality in Higher Education.”)

The changes came after annual reviews by the ministry, which evaluates academic programs and factors such as exam performance and student services. Last week’s crackdown comes a year after the U.A.E. announced its National Strategy for Higher Education, a plan meant to enhance the quality and global competitiveness of university campuses in the Emirates. Under the plan, 11 key areas are to be considered, including health and safety, educational resources, quality of faculty, and overall environment.

The six institutions that have now had licenses cancelled are Al-Hosn University, Emirates College for Management and Information Technology, Maktoum bin Hamdan University College of Dental Medicine, University of Jazeera, the University of Modern Sciences, and MODUL University Dubai, a branch campus from Austria.

Heightened Surveillance

In addition, the troubled Ittihad University is currently under probation and has a history of being under review and probation dating back almost a decade, with a ban on new admissions. The London Business School in Dubai is currently under review, news of which may be surprising to many, since its home campus has done well in rankings in the United Kingdom and Europe since opening in 1964.

Another four local institutions are under tight surveillance, with pressure to raise standards before new admissions are allowed. These are: Al Dar University College, the American College of Dubai, Mena College of Management, and the College of Fashion and Design.

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The Ministry of Education’s Commission for Academic Accreditation, or CAA, has a multi-stage process of evaluations, from review to surveillance status, and then to probation, before licenses are revoked, so institutions are given time to make changes with the hope they will improve and to ensure that they can graduate existing students or transfer them elsewhere if they do have to close.

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