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Key Projects on Hold in Dubai Academic Cluster

Afshan Ahmed / 16 February 2010

DUBAI - Students at Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) have to wait for on-campus accommodation and sport facilities as the projects have been delayed, a senior official of the academic cluster said.

Dr Ayoub Kazim, Executive Director of DIAC, told Khaleej Times the developers were cautious in investing during the economic slowdown.

“I have to acknowledge that there are some major obstacles,” he said. “Under this economic climate, investors are more conscious of spending on academic projects considered huge and resource intensive.”

The Dh700m student accommodation, scheduled to be complete in September 2011 to house 2,800 students, has now been moved to early 2012.

“We are working closely with our developers,” Kazim said. He added that universities required supporting facilities when they market their programmes abroad.

Many universities in the three-year-old DIAC do not offer accommodation to student. Among them are students from the region and the Indian subcontinent. The on-campus accommodation will make DIAC a more attractive destination for foreign students.

More than 12,000 students study in 13 international higher education institutes in DIAC. Last year, a food court and student activity centre were built, adding to the options of students in an area that is away from the city.

Some universities in DIAC witnessed a decline in student numbers last year.

Universities that want to open satellite campuses in DIAC need to meet certain criteria. “We look at the university profile, ranking, student populations and offerings,” Kazim said.

Kazim said, in the absence of a proper monitoring system in the past, some universities may have deviated from their commitment to offer education that made the home campus attractive.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai’s education watchdog, has developed a quality assurance framework for universities in the free zone to ensure standards. Failure to meet them can lead to a cancellation of the operating license.

“We will work with some of them to see how they get back on track,” Kazim said. “We should not forget that their success reflects our success and their failure reflects on us as well.” 

 afshan@khaleejtimes.com

 
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