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Dubai: A gateway to global education success

Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor University of Birmingham

Launching our campus in Dubai marks a major milestone for global higher education – both for the University of Birmingham and Dubai itself.

We have always been global in our outlook and have welcomed international students since our inception in 1901. Today, we have more than 5,000 international students at our Birmingham campus and have been delivering teaching overseas for 20 years with established international education activities in Singapore and China.

Our extensive international research partnerships and collaborations have placed us at the heart of some of the greatest scientific discoveries of recent times, such as the Higgs Bosun and Gravitational Waves.

Birmingham has a long and proud history of firsts. We were the first UK University to be built on a campus model; to establish a Faculty of Commerce; to incorporate a Medical School; and even to allow women to take medical degrees. The establishment of our first international branch campus in Dubai sees us become the first university ranked in the top 100 globally and the first Russell Group university to establish a campus in the emirate.

What makes this pioneering venture stand out, is not so much what we have done, but the way in which we have done it. From the outset we took a partnership approach. All our market research suggested that Dubai was the right location – but it was the level of engagement, support, and commitment demonstrated by the Dubai Government, and in particular the Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), that convinced us that we could establish a thriving, integrated academic community there. The UAE Vision for 2021 further reinforces this view, as it includes the establishment of a first-rate education system – at every level of study from pre-school to university – and a competitive knowledge economy.

It is not just government that has demonstrated a commitment to our venture. We have received welcome support from colleagues at the Dubai International Academic City, where our campus will be based, as well as from other universities across the region. There is a mutual understanding that, through our collective efforts, we can secure Dubai’s future as a global hub for quality education.

The first phase of our Dubai Campus will include a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that reflect those areas of strong demand, emerging gaps in supply, and the particular needs of the region’s economy that best match our own areas of strength. Our pioneering first cohort of students will join us in September 2018 and study on programmes including Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Primary and Secondary Teacher Education, and Business. Every programme will be taught by University of Birmingham staff and will follow the same curriculum and examinations as our UK-based programmes.

As our campus expands over the next few years, we anticipate that our undergraduate and postgraduate-taught students will be joined by a community of postgraduate researchers. We are exploring opportunities to establish an active research hub in the region, building on existing high-profile research projects in which our academics are involved in the UAE, in areas as diverse as Islamic Banking, Future Cities, and Autism.

DubaiUniversity of Birmingham Dubai will become an important part of its local and regional community, replicating our relationship here in the UK with the City of Birmingham and the wider Midlands region. One example of our commitment to the region is a series of free, public exhibitions about the Birmingham Qur’an Manuscript, which we will stage as part of events to mark the 2017 UK/UAE Year of Cultural Collaboration.

We believe that our approach to establishing a vibrant, fully-fledged branch campus in partnership with the country and the communities that it will serve will be at the heart of University of Birmingham Dubai’s success.

Launching our new campus marks an important moment in in the University of Birmingham’s history. It demonstrates that we continue to flourish as a global ‘civic’ university, as we strengthen our commitment to the creation and advancement of knowledge, educating students from many backgrounds and nations, and ensuring that we remain international in our outlook.

Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor University of Birmingham

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