Abu Dhabi University plans to open a new campus in either Knowledge Village or Dubai International Academic City in September 2015, the first of its kind to operate in both emirates.
"It's important for us to expand our market in terms of accessibility for international students, and Dubai is not only a hub for international trade but is becoming a place for international education,” said Dr Nabil Ibrahim, the university's chancellor.
In a decade, the university has grown from 800 students and seven courses to more than 6,000 students and 24 undergraduate and nine postgraduate courses. It also offers a doctorate in business administration.
The new campus will offer mainly postgraduate education, with a limited number of undergraduate courses.
Charles Diab, director of university advancement, admitted it faced stiff competition.
"The message we need to create is why ADU?” he said. " We've got a lot of great assets and reasons why students should choose ADU over others in Dubai but it's a huge challenge.”
Abu Dhabi University has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. Mr Diab described expanding into Dubai as like "looking to move to another country”.
"We'll have to create awareness of the university and its uniqueness. Thankfully, the chairman is giving us the resources to do this.”
Staff have a year to work on marketing and outreach programmes, said Mr Diab.
"The research going on here is what sets ADU apart. We've been given Dh3 million for the coming year alone for research, then there's the five-year plan.
"International rankings depend on this and for us to be the youngest of the three universities in the UAE to have made it to the QS rankings is a reflection of our dedication to this area. As such a young university, this position is huge. In terms of moving to Dubai, this research aspect just adds to our credibility.”
The QS rankings, published annually by the British company Quacquarelli Symonds, rate the world's top 800 universities. United Arab Emirates University, the American University of Sharjah and Abu Dhabi University are all in the top 650.
Ali Saeed bin Harmal Al Dhaheri, the university's chairman, said research centres in areas such as pharmaceuticals and law would be launched in the next five years as ADU continues to strive for international rankings.
ADU is also seeking US accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, said Mr Al Dhaheri. "In 2003 we said we wanted to make sure our graduates found jobs and helped the economy, and now 90 per cent find jobs.”
Dr Ibrahim said research was a priority, taking the university from a teaching institution to a research-based institution both serving the local economy and filling the gaps in the employment market.
Last year the Norwegian Institute of Air Research set up labs at ADU and the two are collaborating on research projects. Last week ADU was granted its first patent, in the application of material development in energy. Research will continue to be a major focus in addition to areas such as transport, information technology and water desalination.
"It's what is vital for international recognition,” said Dr Ibrahim.
Source: The National