Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research has called on the whole society to share the responsibility in preparing the UAE students to meet the economic market needs in the country, the region and beyond.
"Providing research and development (R&D) opportunities is important in preparing our students," said Shaikh Nahyan, while speaking at a higher education forum organised by Abu Dhabi Educational Council (ADEC) to help develop the Emirati workforce.
He noted that improving the capabilities of Emirati students is a key component in this strategy. Focus will be on developing their analytical thinking, learning languages, encouraging creativity and risk taking.
Helping the students develop work experience over summer and fighting the stereotype that Emiratis are disinterested in the private sector are important elements stressed Shaikh Nahyan during his speech at the forum held at the Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi.
"Abu Dhabi is moving forward to create a knowledge base economy with full productive employment of citizens. We aim to shape our economy, depending less on oil by enhancing technologies, expanding manufacturing, agriculture and other industries, and enhance our services, educational system, culture communication and more " Shaikh Nahyan said.
Raising the quality of Abu Dhabi's higher education system to internationally recognized levels topped the list as well as providing all qualified students with affordable access to higher education especially masters and PhDs.
The top ten universities in the United States have a R&D budget of Dh35 billion. "In comparison, the budget of research in all UAE universities is less than Dh200 million," Dr Makki ADEC's Strategic Planning Executive Director said.
ADEC continues to evaluate R&D proposals from universities. Seven out of 58 proposals for research funding have been approved.
ADEC's target for 2019 is to have 20,000 students enrolled in science and technology disciplines and 4,000 on government scholarships in priority of disciplines. There are currently 1696 scholarships awarded.
In Abu Dhabi higher education institutions, the students' enrollment in IT has decreased from 2006/7, while the enrollment in engineering disciplines has significantly increased and while there is a slight increase in business.
Currently 36 per cent of Abu Dhabi universities national graduates are concentrated in business and IT with only four per cent studying medicine and health sciences.