Higher Education
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Higher Education

Abu Dhabi is a dynamic and fast-growing economy. Its immense potential brings great opportunities for our youth, today and in the future, especially in certain priority sectors.

Those who achieve a higher education qualification will be best placed to benefit from and contribute to these opportunities.

 Who Oversees Higher Education in Abu Dhabi?

The higher education sector in Abu Dhabi is regulated by two government bodies:

  • The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MoHESR). Established in 1993, MoHESR operates at the federal level and, through a subsidiary body (the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA)), has responsibility for accrediting institutions and programs in the Emirate.
  • The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC). Formed in 2005, ADEC operates at the Emirate level. It can establish academic institutions and educational bodies in Abu Dhabi, in co-ordination with MoHESR and with approval from the Executive Council. In its effort to lay the foundation for an innovation-based, knowledge producing society, ADEC works on three axes:
    • Elevating the quality of Higher Education, ensuring high licensing standards and incentives for continuous improvement.
    • Promoting and incentivizing research, innovation, scholarship and discovery as a key driver for developing a highly-skilled, highly-productive and competitive National workforce.
    • Aligning Higher Education with labor market and socio-economic needs, guided by the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 and Abu Dhabi’s policy agenda.

 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Abu Dhabi

In 2012, there were 18 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) operating in Abu Dhabi. These are classified as Federal, Public Non-Federal and Private institutions.

In 2012, there were 18 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) operating in Abu Dhabi.

Each emphasizes particular fields of study or programs, but all aim to prepare well-qualified graduates for the labor market.

In addition, some have a specific mission to focus on research and advance knowledge. Besides the 18 institutions, there are four HEIs that prepare students directly for military or police careers.

1-Federal HEIs

Federal institutions are primarily funded by the federal government. They provide free undergraduate education to all eligible nationals.

These institutions serve the whole country, with campuses in different Emirates. Two of them, UAE University and Higher Colleges of Technology, are the largest Higher Education Institutions in Abu Dhabi in terms of students’ enrolment.

The first university established, the United Arab Emirates University, was founded in 1976. The two other federal HEIs, Higher Colleges of Technology and Zayed University, were established in 1988 and 1998 respectively.

2-Private and Public Non-Federal HEIs

Private institutions are privately-funded and operated

These institutions are established at the Emirate level. Some of the Public Non-Federal institutions are partnered with either ADEC or another government body, and receive funding mainly from the Abu Dhabi government, directly and indirectly.

For example, the Petroleum Institute is funded through the Abu Dhabi National Oil company (ADNOC). On the other hand, Private institutions are privately-funded and operated.

Nearly all Public Non-Federal and Private HEIs were founded between 2000 and 2009. Out of the nine Public Non-Federal institutions, all but one was launched between 2005 and 2009. This reflects the government’s intent to achieve the goals of the Economic Vision 2030.

  Higher Education Institution Indicators in Abu Dhabi Emirate

Considering the benefits of a standardized indicator system for the higher education institutions in Abu Dhabi, this indicator tool provides access to some key ADEC indicators for HE institutions in Abu Dhabi and compare the institutions along a scientific framework namely:
  1.  Faculty: reflects the quality of instructional staff
  2.  Outcomes: reflects how successful programs are in generating strong graduates
  3.  Program characteristics: reflects aspects of programs and quality assurance
  4.  Research:  reflects the quality of the research output of the institutions’ faculty
  5.  Resources: reflects the intensity of financial and human resources available per student.
 The tool includes detailed estimation methodology for each indicator. To view the Higher Education Institution indicators: