Dubai International Academic City highlights opportunities in regional sector at Building Future Education MENA
27 October 2011
The education sector in the UAE has come a long way over the past decade to become a benchmark for success in the region. To ensure its continued shaping of a competitive workforce each year, it is imperative that educational reforms are monitored and aligned with the global and economic landscape, according to Dr Ayoub Kazim, Managing Director, Tecom Investments' Education Cluster.
His comment came during his address on the role of higher education as one of the key economic drivers at the Building Future Education (BFE) MENA, organized by exhibition group UBM and supported by Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), a member of TECOM Investments' Education Cluster.
Running from 25-26 October, the event brought together key stakeholders including members of education ministries and councils, educational providers and suppliers from the region to share best practices and discuss opportunities for growth and reforms in the education sector.The event attracted 200 companies and over 6,000 visitors.
Held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC),the free-to-attend conference and exhibition covered curriculum and programme delivery, teacher training and professional development, quality assurance, school improvement and vocational training for all educational institutes including crèches, nurseries and kindergartens, schools, colleges, universities, research, training centres and special needs' centres.
During a panel discussion themed 'How to Attract Investment For the Advancement of Education', Dr. Kazim deliberated on hard-hitting subjects that hold high relevance in today's globally competitive landscape. He elaborated on the corporate structuring required and the importance of favourable national policies, public-private partnerships, venture capital and private equity funds to gain investment into the region's education sector.
Speakers on the panel also included Robert Lytle, Partner, Head of Education Centre of Excellence for Profit and International, The Parthenon Group, US;ImadGhandour, Managing Partner, Cedar Bridge, Saudi Arabia, and Svava Lee Bjarnason, Senior Education Specialist, International Financial Corporation (IFC), USA.
Dr Kazim additionally lent his invaluable insight on 'Sustainability in Educational Facilities: Operating 'Green' Buildings in the UAE'.The DIAC campus is the only and largest core and shell academic building in the Middle East with a total built up area of 600,000 sq. feet that is LEED certified.
DIAC's initiative to support the conference comes on the back of large investments that are being made in the region's education sector. The UAE government has currently allocated 22 per cent of its budget to education. Moreover, a large number of foreign institutions have set up base in the UAE with the help of the incentives and support provided by government bodies including DIAC.
Andrew Pert, Regional Director, UBM Middle East, said: "BFE MENA's theme for 2011- 'Modernising Education to Create Tomorrow's Workforce' -recognises the link between the academia and industry. One of the more critical aspects of this relationship is in producing graduates that address the demands of the economy. DIAC's partnership offered valuable information on how its member institutions keep pace with the needs of the workplace through introducing new courses and programmes."
DIAC currently hosts 27 multi-tiered universities offering over 300 academic programmes that are carefully aligned to market needs. In addition to the regular disciplines including business, film, media and healthcare, universities also offer programmes in niche areas. Murdoch University offers a bachelor's programme in sustainable development and environment management, while BITS Pilani Dubai is reputed for its engineering degree in biotechnology. Additionally, Amity University offers distinguished programmes in forensic sciences, nanotechnology and solar and alternate energy.
BFE MENA was supported by major decision makers in the UAE including the Abu Dhabi Police GHQ and Zayed Higher Organisation. It attracted a number of sponsors including GEMS Education, Sabis and AECOM, as well as partners such as Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and Masdar.