KHDA Begins University Ratings

The ratings for 17 out of 25 international university branch campuses in Dubai have been announced, representing just over half of all students studying in international branch campuses. Just three achieved a 5-star rating.
KHDA Begins University Ratings
By David Westley
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The first-ever quality ratings of 17 out of 25 international university branch campuses in Dubai were revealed on Wednesday, with just three of the universities gaining a coveted 5-star rating.

The hope is that both quality, and global recognition, for the emirate's universities will rise with the new ratings, in the same way quality, and recognition, rose with the arrival of inspections for its schools.

The three 5-star rated universities are University of Manchester Worldwide, London Business School and Heriot-Watt University.

In addition to the three universities with a 5-star rating, eight institutions achieved 4-star, three institutions received 3-star, two achieved 2-star rating and one received 1-star. The KHDA also created a 5-star plus category, but, so far, has not awarded it to an institution in the emirate.

Just over half of all students enrolled in international branch campuses in Dubai, representing 16,517 student in 282 programmes, were covered in the initial cycle of inspections.

The rating system, developed in conjunction with QS, responsible for one of the global University rankings, evaluates universities on eight quality indicators: Teaching, Employability, Research, Internationalisation, Facilities, Overall Programme Strength, Well-being, Social Responsibility and Inclusiveness. 



Out of the 17 universities rated, eight are British, three Indian, three Australian, one French, one Pakistani and one Iranian. With a diverse foreign university profile in Dubai, there was "considerable debate about whether and how the quality of higher education institutions with significantly different models and widely varying missions can be realistically and usefully compared with one another" Dr Kevin Dunseath, regional director MENA of 4-star rated City, University of London told UAE newspaper Gulf News.

Higher Education Classification FAQs

Who are the intended users of the Higher Education Classification?
The Higher Education Classification is intended to provide greater transparency for students, parents and the public in general. Universities can use the reports to highlight their strengths and plan for future improvements.

Can a university appeal its rating?
Yes, a university can appeal should they feel that they have not been given a fair rating. The institutions can appeal by sending an official communication addressed to the Director General of KHDA within 30 days of the publication of the report.

Can a student transfer to another university if the rating is low?
A credit transfer between programmes and universities will be based on equivalencies determined by University Academic policies. This process existed prior to the introduction of the Higher Education Classification framework.

Does the university home campus contribute to the branch campus rating in the Higher Education Classification framework?
Higher Education Classification focuses on measuring the branch campus performance in the classification categories. However, the branch may benefit from visits by faculty from the home campus, and from policies and procedures developed at the home campus, and implemented at the branch.

If a university is rated “One Star”, will it be closed down?
No, the university will not be closed down. One of the aims of the Higher Education Classification framework it is to provide greater transparency about higher education institutions to the public. Another aim is to help universities identify strengths and weaknesses, and to prioritize areas for improvement before the next rating cycle.

What is the difference between UQAIB and Higher Education Classification?
UQAIB is the academic quality assurance process that KHDA uses to ensure that branch campuses are delivering programmes to the same quality as the home campus. The 
Higher Education Classification is a rating system developed to provide better transparency and public information.

Is this a permanent rating or will there be another opportunity to improve?
KHDA will carefully review the results of the first cycle of the Higher Education Classification process. After due deliberation and a review of feedback from participants, plans will be made to implement the next Higher Education Classification cycle.

Will KHDA share the areas where the universities need to improve?
Yes. The report will clearly set out areas of strength and areas for improvement which the university can prioritize moving forward.

Can universities increase tuition fees based on the Higher Education Classification rating?
There is no linkage between rating and tuition fees. Decisions on tuition fees are made at the discretion of each University.

What can I as a student expect to gain from the Higher Education Classification?
You will have access to a range of information about Dubai universities which will help you make informed higher education choices. All of this information will be conveniently located on KHDA’s website.

Will my university’s rating affect my degree/ employability?
The Higher Education Classification rating will not affect your degree. All of the institutions that have been through the Higher Education Classification cycle award degrees that are recognized by the government of Dubai, as per Executive Council Resolution (No.21), 2011. These degrees are also international awards.

For employment purposes, as per Executive Council Resolution (No.21) 2011, Article 9, you will be eligible for employment by Dubai government and the private sector across the UAE.

Is there an option to get a refund should I choose to no longer continue at the university I am studying at due to the rating?
No, a refund based on rating is not an option. The framework was developed and implemented in 2019. There is no intention for the results to be used retrospectively. Refunds are based solely on university policies.

5 star universities

University of Manchester Worldwide
London Business School
Heriot-Watt University

4 star universities

S.P. Jain School of Global Management
Amity University Dubai
Manipal University
Hult International Business School
City University of London
Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani (Bits Pilani)
University of Bradford
Middlesex University Dubai

3 star universities

SAE Institute
University of Exeter
Murdoch University, Dubai

2 star universities

ESMOD French Fashion Institute
Islamic Azad University

1 star universities

Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology

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