With AED 6.8 billion of tuition revenues during the 2016/2017 academic year, Dubai’s private K12 education market remains one of the most attractive and fastest growing markets in the world. Similar to K12 education, higher education in the emirate have been steadily increasing with enrolments in Dubai rising from 33,500 in 2011/12 to 46,000 in 2015/16, a CAGR of 8.4%.

The supporting factors identified include; the growing population, the popularity of Dubai with students from neighbouring emirates and the variety of institutions available. There has also been a growing preference towards international higher education institutes amongst Emirati parents and professionals seeking to complete their higher education while working in the emirate. However, the higher education sector still offers number of opportunities for investors and operators to grow, as currently, only 15% of total K12 students attend private universities in Dubai.

The publication highlights the regulatory framework and relative authorities governing the sector in the UAE and in Dubai with a subsequent focus on key demand /supply analysis, market gap assessment in line with the 2021 vision and challenges / opportunities for operators and investors entering Dubai’s lucrative higher education sector. Also discussed is the emergence of special economic zones, how they positively impact the growth of private higher education in the Emirate, the different types of Higher Education Providers (HEPs) and their role in promoting higher education in Dubai.

Business related courses remain the most popular choice in Dubai, followed by engineering and agriculture, then media and design, with approximately 80% of undergraduate students paying AED 25,000 to AED 65,000 per annum and 70% of postgraduate students paying between AED 50,000 to AED 110,000 per annum.

Mansoor Ahmed, Director at Colliers International MENA, commented “During the academic year 2015/2016, over 60,000 students were enrolled in 56 HEPs in Dubai, including both full-time and half- time students. Of these, 76% or 46,000 were enrolled in private institutions. This supports Dubai’s’ drive into this critical sector with the aim to become a leading player regionally and internationally as over one-third of students come from abroad with 56% from Asian countries and 30% from the MENA region.”

He adds “The number of universities in Dubai has grown from just three to sixty-two in the last three decades, including thirty-three international universities from twelve countries such as Australia, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. Based on historical growth, Dubai is expected to require an estimated 68,000 student places of which 50,000 are expected to be in private sector by 2025.”