Instilling the love for education...or Apple products? Dubai universities offering 'freebies' for enrollment

Published April 20th, 2015 - 01:15 GMT

Universities in Dubai are lining up free iPhones, MacBooks and cash prizes in an all-out frenzy to attract students at the Gulf Education and Training Exhibition (Getex). The free gifts are being doled out to students who sign-up for degree courses and pay the first instalment of fees.

Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth, and Community Development, inaugurated the three-day exhibition on Wednesday.

More than 350 education providers from 38 countries are showcasing over 2,500 academic, training and vocational programmes at the show. Taking place until April 17, 2015, this year’s exhibition is expected to attract over 35,000 visitors.

“We have the best deals and this time we are giving away a smart phone and an early-enrolment discount of Dh4,000 ($1000),” said Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, deputy director of Middlesex University Dubai.

The university is giving away 50 iPhones to students at Getex, if they commit to any undergraduate or post-graduate course. University officials say the gifts aren’t a mere incentive to join a course but also double up as educational tools inside the classroom.

“Universities are competing in a similar space especially with courses in engineering and business programmes. The incentives get people to select their university earlier and provides students with a greater reason to act on their choice,” he added.

With more than 60 universities operating in Dubai, competition is higher than ever. At the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), students signing up at the education show were given a 10 per cent scholarship.

Professor Mohammed Salem, President of UOWD said the scholarships and grants help attract best students.

“The higher education market is very competitive. We give merit scholarships to students who are high-achievers because they add value to a classroom. We compete to attract top students and that’s the case anywhere in the world.”

He acknowledged that the university did not give away any gifts, as it wasn’t part of their academic ‘culture’. “It’s not part of our culture to gift students and we take students who meet the academic criteria. Spot admissions are becoming a phenomenon but it requires all tick boxes to be checked to ensure a student is fit for a course,” said Prof Mohammed Salem.

IMT offers Apple MacBook Air

At the Institute of Management Technology (IMT), students registering for a course at Getex were given an Apple MacBook Air. A senior academic at the business school said the laptops would help students in their studies.

“We believe in technology enabled learning and in line with this we encourage all our students to adopt the approach of ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD). Our teaching-learning process is enabled by online platform such as Blackboard. Therefore, students enrolling in our undergraduate programmes will be given MacBook Air for facilitating the same,” said Dr Janakiraman Moorthy, Director, IMT Dubai.

For students, the increasing competition between universities is a win-win situation. Blessy Rajan, a Grade 12 student completing school this year had already signed up for a bachelor’s programme in accounting. Holding an iPhone in her hand, Blessy said: “The iPhone was a pleasant surprise and I am very happy. The special offers make it very attractive but it doesn’t really affect the choice of course or university. I already knew what I wanted to study and the freebies are a welcome bonus.”


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