Now Reading
Best Universities in the UAE – Rise in KHDA 5 STAR rankings for Dubai universities gives graduating post-16 students new options for world class degree study

With the cost of university study rising in traditionally top destinations for students like the UK and US – and with the reduction in places in many universities overseas, the KHDA has today issued a new option for students set on higher education. The publication of its annual rankings for Dubai universities highlights a significant increase in the number of universities and course options ranked outstanding – including from premium international universities now based locally. The cost of studying in the UK even for families who secure home fee status are high, with the majority of students carrying loan debt exceeding £45,000. This can more than treble for students studying subjects like medicine, and those who study for Foundation years will see these figures increasing by 25% again. Add in a 25% premium for studying in cities like London with higher rental costs and the number of international students and families who need to plan for a £100K cost of overseas university study is increasingly the norm.

Graph showing the average debt for students at UK universities in 2022

The solution? The growth in international Tier 1 universities bringing world class degree study to the UAE.

Today (1 July 2022) the KHDA has published its annual report into university options for students in Dubai – and the results demonstrate an overwhelmingly positive picture for students seeking local options for degree study. The KHDA operates a six tier structure of university ranking from a One Star rating to a Five Stars Plus.

The Plus rating is reserved for the holy grail of universities – a five star rating across the board, global recognition of being a leader in their field and near guaranteed employment for its graduates. It must score above 900 of the total 1000 points available to the KHDA Inspectors and five stars in all major areas of the inspection.

Of the total of 17 universities in Dubai, only one university – City, University of London, scores above 900 points, but misses the Plus rating by a whisker. A total of 10 universities, including City, University of London, secure a Five Star rating from the KHDA, four universities secure a Four Star rating, two secure a Three Star rating and one secures a Two Star rating.


Five Star rated Universities in Dubai

City, University of London (UK) – 914/1000. City, University of London’s Dubai Centre was established in February 2007 in collaboration with the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), as a regional centre of educational excellence for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The Centre offers The Bayes Business School Executive MBA and MSc programmes in Aviation management.


More information here (Executive MBA) and here (MSC Aviation)

The University of Manchester Worldwide (UK) – 898/1000. The University of Manchester has four global centres  – Dubai, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore.

The University of Manchester Worldwide provides MBA, Executive MBA and MSC programmes in Financial Management.

More information can be found here.

Manipal Academy of Higher Education (India) – 876/1000. Winner of the Top Schools Award for Best University in the United Arab Emirates 2021-22, Manipal Academy of Higher Education is a full spectrum university offering 53 programmes across seven disciplines with study programmes at both graduate and post-graduate level.

Award winning Manipal Academy of Higher Education Dubai

More on Manipal Academy of Higher Education here.

Hult International Business School (US) – 843/1000. Hult International Business School offers MBA, DMBA Executive and MBA programmes as well as a Masters programme  Programmes in International Business.

More information on Hult International Business School here.

Curtin University Dubai (Australia) – 804/1000. Curtin University offers undergraduate degrees in Business, Marketing, IT and Engineering and an MBA Programme. The university also offers Foundation conversion years.

More information on Curtin University Dubai can be found here.

Murdoch University Dubai (Australian) – 800/1000 offers, Foundation, Diploma, Undergraduate and postgraduate programmes with disciplines including Psychology, Accountancy, Finance, Business, Marketing, IT and Communication. Murdoch also offers specialist degrees in teaching at postgraduate level and an MBA Programme.

More information on Murdoch University Dubai here.

Heriot-Watt University Dubai (UK – Scotland) – 796/1000. Heriot-Watt University Dubai offers a full spectrum of undergraduate degrees across subject areas including Architecture, Accountancy, Engineering, Psychology, Management, Fashion, Real Estate, Marketing, Interior Design, Computer Science and Robotics. Post-graduate study options are many and the school offers a regional specialism in construction.

The Heriot-Watt prospectus follows:


More information on Heriot-Watt University Dubai can be found here.

London Business School (UK) – 780/1000. London Business School offers its Executive MBA programme through a mix on online and campus study.


More on the London Business School Executive MBA Programme here.

Middlesex University Dubai (UK) – 757/100. Middlesex University Dubai is a full spectrum university offering options across multiple disciplines at Foundation, undergraduate and post-graduate level. Key areas of expertise include Law, Media, IT, Psychology, Health It and Accounting. Middlesex University Dubai also offers a dedicated MBA programme with broader MSc and MA programmes in business disciplines ranging from banking and marketing to HR. The university also offer postgraduate degree study in Education and Teaching. The university offers scholarships and grants – and encourages university employment in industry during the course of their studies. More on the Foundation programme below:

More on Middlesex University Dubai here.

Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani Dubai (India) – 700/1000. BITS Pilani Dubai Campus is strongly focused on Science with expertise in Mechanical/Civil/Electrical/Chemical Engineering, It, Biotech and the Social Sciences. The university offers undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral opportunities for students.

More on the Birla Institute in Dubai here


Four Star rated Universities in Dubai

SP Jain School of Global Management Dubai Campus (Australia) – 751/1000. SP Jain School of Global Management offers undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral programmes in Business Management. The university has a specialism in global luxury goods focused on development of the sector in India.

More information on the SP Jain School of Global Management Dubai Campus can be found here.

SAE Institute Dubai (Australia) – 740/1000. SAE stands for School of Audio Engineering, although today SAE is focused on the broadest creative arts programmes in Animation, Audio, Games, Film, Design, AR and VR. Prospectus below:


More on SAE Institute Dubai here.

Amity University Dubai (India) – 723/1000. Amity University Dubai is a full spectrum university offering undergraduate study across a broad range of disciplines across the Arts, Sciences, Social Sciences and Creative Arts. Amity has a Business School offering BBA and MBA programmes. Amity has vocational specialism in Hospitality and Tourism as well as dedicated labs in Aerospace, Forensic Science and Mechanical Engineering.


More on Amity University Dubai here.

ESMOD French Fashion Institute (France) – 612/1000. The École Supérieure des arts et techniques de la Mode, or ESMOD Paris, is a French private school of fashion founded in Paris in 1841 by Alexis Lavigne. It has branches in Bordeaux, Lyon, Paris, Rennes and Roubaix in France, and globally in Seoul, Moscow, Dubai, and Tokyo. The school is dedicated to the disciplines of Fashion and degrees are accredited in France (more here). The undergraduate degree programme is in Fashion Design and Creation.

More on ESMOD Dubai here.


Three Star rated Universities in Dubai

University of Bradford Dubai (UK) – 691/1000. The University of Bradford Dubai has offered its Executive MBA programme in Dubai since 1998. The EMBA is Triple Crown Accredited with accreditation from AMBA, AACSB and EQUIS.

More on the Bradford University Dubai Business School/regional hub can be found here.

University Paris II Pantheon Assas Dubai (France) – 553/1000. University Paris II Pantheon Assas Dubai is a specialist university in Law offering undergraduate LLB and postgraduation LLM degrees. LLB prospectus below:


More on University Paris II Pantheon Assas Dubai can be found here.

Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology Dubai(SZABIST) (Pakistan) – 348/1000. SZABIST Dubai is the only Pakistani University in the UAE. The university offers undergraduate degrees in Business, Accounting/Finance and Computer Science, Master programmes in Business (MBA and Executive MBA), Computer Science and Project Management.

More on Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology Dubai can be found here.


KHDA High Education Full Report

Universities in Dubai Full Report and Ratings by the KHDA 2022


University Options in Dubai – The Verdict

These are still early days for Dubai if the aim is to provide a genuinely globally competitive university sector in the UAE. Nevertheless, the sector is strengthening. There are arguably too many business schools here relative to full spectrum universities offering courses across the disciplines, particularly from the US, UK and Europe. The Phase 2 opening of University of Birmingham Dubai arguably adds very significantly to the picture. The first global top 100 and UK Russell Group university to establish a campus in the UAE, Birmingham University opened its new landmark campus in 2022, too late for the UAE rankings this year. Arguably its opening is set to be a game-changer for the region.


Generous scholarships are on offer too. More on University of Birmingham Dubai here.

They said of our schools sector less than a decade ago that it would never be strong enough to keep expat families in the region from succumbing to the shiny allure of blue-chip boarding schools at home. They were proved wrong. Today our schools sector is outstanding by any account or global measure.

The university sector may be a bigger challenge, and it may also be early days, but you would not, on the basis of what has been achieved here already in education to date, want to bet against it.

History finds against the naysayers: in Dubai, if you build it, they will, as surely as students in the UAE need more choice of world class universities and courses, come.

© 2022. All rights reserved.

Read more about the trend to choose local universities here

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

Leave a Reply