Universities in Dubai are looking to expand their campuses and programmes to equip students with the skills needed for Expo 2020.
During the Gulf Education and Training Exhibition (Getex), which was held in Dubai on Wednesday, universities shared their plans to meet the needs of the Expo .
A study by Standard Chartered estimates that around 300,000 direct jobs will be created in the UAE by 2020. Another study by The Talent Enterprise found that five key industries — hospitality, transportation, retail, banking, finance and real estate and infrastructure — will witness key growth and so will need to expand.
Professor Ahmad Al Ali, Vice-Chancellor of the Emirates Aviation University, said he expects that the Expo will have a positive effect on the university with an increase in demand for aviation.
“We currently have 2,000 students; our target is 5,000 students in the next four years. By changing from a college to a university we will become more research-oriented. We plan on focusing on future research on safety and security of planes and pilot fatigue, basically, topics related to aviation,” said Al Ali.
Emirates Aviation College changed from a college to a full-fledged university (the Emirates Aviation University) with a brand new campus that Al Ali said will be completed by June
Heriot-Watt University in Dubai, on the other hand, revealed that it will be offering six PhD scholarships worth Dh1 million, to encourage research in the UAE.
“In the UK, doctorate programmes are entirely research-based. We are trying to develop research capabilities in the country by providing training through these doctorate programmes,” said Professor Ammar Kaka, Vice-Principal of the university and Executive Dean and Head of Dubai Campus.
The scholarships will be available in the School of Built Environment, School of Engineering and Physical Science, School of Management and Languages.
The 26th edition of Getex, which was inaugurated by Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, will run until April 11.
Getex showcases a diverse selection of over 2,500 academic, training and vocational programmes from some of the leading universities and academic institutions worldwide to an estimated 35,000 visitors
Shaikh Nahyan stressed the importance of education  as a key cornerstone of human life, stating: “The future of the country relies on the level of education it offers. That said, we commend the efforts made to organise an event which raises student awareness about the latest academic, educational and occupational training programmes.”
Anselm Godinho, Managing Director, International Conferences and Exhibitions (IC&E), which organised the event, said: “Education is among the key priorities for the UAE, as reflected by the Dh140 billion budget for 2014-16 where 21 per cent has been allocated for social development and education. Dh9.8 billion from this total budget will be spent on public schools and higher education.”
Mariam Shaikh, Vice-President of Student Recruitment and Admissions at Amity University in Dubai , said the university’s programmes already cover the skills needed for the Expo. However, they are building a Dh300 million campus in Academic City to accommodate more students.
“It is expected that there will be 15,000 jobs by 2015, and it is in our mandate from day one to offer programmes that cater to the needs of the market. Every single one of our student has been placed,” said Mariam.
The new Amity campus will be completed by June or July and will cater to 3,000 students.