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David Eastwood

Principal & Vice-Chancellor, University of Birmingham Dubai

Glyn Watson

Provost, University of Birmingham Dubai

As a research-led university, University of Birmingham Dubai's vision and ambition complements the UAE and Dubai's vision for the future development of the knowledge economy.

How do you assess the University of Birmingham’s role in Dubai’s higher education ecosystem and broader economy?David Eastwood The University of Birmingham is the first UK Russell Group university to establish a campus in the UAE and the first top-100-ranked institution to open in Dubai. As a global university with a civic outlook, the University of Birmingham is committed to playing its part in supporting the UAE as we drive economic progress through knowledge and innovation, whilst contributing to the development of a growing international education hub in Dubai. Our commitment to the region is perhaps best demonstrated by work underway to create a purpose-built, 50,000-sqm campus in Academic City. Set to be completed in 2021, it is designed to encourage collaboration across all academic disciplines, with flexible learning spaces and formal teaching spaces ensuring teaching and research can work in tandem to benefit students and the wider society. There will be a 300-seat lecture theater, a similarly sized auditorium, and three laboratories accommodating 200 students, along with seminar and tutorial rooms.

How did you decide to enter Dubai’s higher education landscape?
Glyn Watson The University of Birmingham already has a global reach through research partnerships and teaching in different parts of the world. However, it never had a physical footprint outside the UK. For us, this was the right time to take this next step for a number of reasons. We wanted to go where our impact would be maximized. Dubai, and the UAE more broadly, has an approach centered around diversification and developing a knowledge economy. In addition, Dubai offers a strong credible educational hub and is well positioned for us to reach out to our key strategic recruitment markets. Since our entry into the market, a number of other UK universities have also begun to actively look at the UAE as a possible destination. This gives us confidence about our decision.

What unique contributions does the Dubai campus bring to the University of Birmingham’s global operations?
DE The University of Birmingham is a global university. We have been delivering education internationally for many years, particularly in China and Singapore, and have welcomed international students to our UK campus since we were founded in 1900. While our primary competitive base is in the UK, we are increasingly looking at our global competitiveness when developing our academic mission. The establishment of our first large-scale and fully rounded university campus—teaching and research—in Dubai cements this global ambition. As a research-intensive university, the volume, scale, and level of our research means we can contribute to advancing knowledge on big global challenges whilst enhancing our reputation, improving our metrics, and continuing to compete in a global landscape.

How does your proposition differentiate you from other universities?
GW We are 100% owned and managed by the University of Birmingham. This offers us a level of autonomy over the academic mission and the student experience that we create that we would not have if we had gone with a partner. It also gives our stakeholders confidence that they are dealing with the University of Birmingham and not a franchise partner. Second to that is our research focus. The University of Birmingham is renowned for research excellence. Since being founded in 1900, 11 Nobel Prize recipients have walked through our doors, five of them after 2001. Our commitment to research forms the foundation of everything we do. Finally, there is the quality of our educational offering. We were clear when setting up our Dubai campus that we would not compromise on quality. For this reason, the standard entry criteria for the two campuses are the same. We teach the same programs, with the same modules. Often, it is the same academics teaching on both sites. This is important to maintain the credibility of our offer.



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