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Top 5 Best Universities in UAE

When local and international students in the United Arab Emirates think about higher education, it is obvious that they will want the best. There are over 50 internationally accredited universities to choose from in the UAE. However, with so many options available, students and parents find it difficult to choose the best one to enrol in.

United Arab Emirates universities are highly respected and well-known in academic communities as they continue offering high-quality Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD programs for smart and self-driven students like you. In this article, we review the top 5 best universities in the UAE that you can consider when looking for a university to enrol for Bachelor’s, master’s or PhD program.

List of Top 5 Best Universities in UAE

1.  United Arab Emirates University

The UAE university is the top university in the United Arab Emirates and the 6th best in the Gulf area. It has a student population of slightly over 7,000 students and nearly 2,000 international students. It is also one of the oldest universities, established in 1976. Its alum community comprises many powerful leaders in various government and business sectors in the UAE.

The United Arab Emirates University has nine colleges dedicated to teaching and research excellence, and notably, it was the first university in UAE to provide PhD degrees. It offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs in disciplines ranging from medical sciences and information technology to humanities and social sciences. As per the university website, UAEU is a highly regarded research institution, ranking 20th in the world.

2.  American University of Sharjah

The American University of Sharjah (AUS) is highlighted for its multicultural student population, as international students account for nearly half of the university’s 12,000 population. The university has an outstanding track record for educational excellence as it has grown to symbolize the ideal in teaching and research. Besides, it is well known and recognized by businesses across the world.

It has some of the greatest libraries in the UAE, major sports facilities, a food cafeteria, a health centre, and residential hostels within the campus environment. With 350 full-time faculty and staff, the university has been featured in the top 10 universities in the Gulf region for the past few years.

3.  Ajman University of Science and Technology

Ajman University (AU) was established in 1988 as the first private institution in the GCC region. Besides, it was the first university in the United Arab Emirates to enrol international students. Ajman university ranked in the top 45 in GCC in the QS World University Rankings for 2020.

Better still, the Quality Assurance Agency of the United Kingdom has awarded AU worldwide accreditation, thus making it one of the six higher education institutions in the world to do so.

4.  Zayed University

Zayed University (ZU) is a public institution of higher learning that was the UAE’s first globally authorized federal university. It bears the name of Zayed bin Sultan AI Nahyan, the UAE’s first president and one of the international students leading universities in the United Arab Emirates. It has eight colleges specializing in fields like natural sciences, education, arts, humanities, and technology, to name a few.

Both local and international students are trained to serve the community at Zayed University’s campuses in Dubai and Abu Dhabi before they move to their output-based degrees, where the university offers the General Education Program for the first two semesters. Besides, ZU allows students to participate in university-sponsored social and entertainment events.

5.  Khalifa University

Khalifa University (KU) is a non-profit science university established in 2007 in Abu Dhabi as a government project. It is ranked 211th worldwide and 9th in the 2021 Arab region. With a current student population of about 1,500 students, there are proposals for a new campus which indicates that the university might increase to approximately 6,000 students soon.

The university is founded on the American Model of higher education. It has built global partnerships, faculty, and research programs to improve advancement in the United Arab Emirates and neighbouring countries. Since it was founded by merging several technical colleges, the objective is to establish a knowledge-based business. Besides, Institute for International and Civil Security (IICS) at Khalifa University is considered a national and global security authority.

7 Things to Look for When Choosing a University in the UAE

However, before joining any university in UAE, an ambitious student must consider several criteria to get the best institution for their program. So, here are some of the factors to consider:

1.  Accreditation and Recognition

Check for accreditation and recognition of the university you intend to enrol in. Institutions of higher learning gain accreditation from the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR). However, some universities do not seek MOHESR accreditation but may be accredited by international bodies or organizations.

So, if you intend to work for the UAE government, consider a university with MOHESR accreditation. Also, if you want to pursue your postgraduate degree at a MOHESR-accredited university in UAE, make to pursue your Bachelor’s degree at a MOHESR-accredited university.

2.  Age of the University

Certainly, the older the university in the UAE, the better. Undoubtedly, new universities in the UAE may seem attractive regarding the variety of facilities and courses. However, picking an institution with a long-time research tradition is better. Faculties conducting research and contributing to academic publications for a long time would certainly add to the high standards of teaching and learning in any university.

3.  Check the Variety of Courses

Look at the university’s various courses while comparing them with the others. Universities with a large number of students – more than 3000 tend to provide a wide array of courses to choose from. Therefore, be cautious of smaller institutions with around 500 students offering too many courses. The course or module will often not be available in a certain semester because very few students are enrolled. Moreover, inquire about the schedules because you may find out that some of your classes are at night way after registering.

4.  Check who are the faculty members

For whatever course you want to enrol in, check out who is the faculty member, their educational backgrounds and past professional experiences. If any university website doesn’t avail this information, then reconsider it. Information about different faculties should be readily available on the university website.

5.  Location/ Campus size/ Facilities

Check the location of the university. For instance, in Dubai, universities are in Knowledge Village and Dubai International Academic City, while others are scattered around the city. So make sure the university’s location is appropriate for you in terms of transport and timings. Make sure to check the campus size and facilities. Ideally, visit the university, lecture rooms, computer labs, library, etc., and see it yourself.

6.  Look at the Annual Enrollment Figures

It is necessary to check the annual enrollment figures of the universities you intend to enrol in. For example, if you find a university had an enrollment of 1500 students in 2017, cross-reference to see how many of those graduating in 2020 or 2021. If you find that the graduating numbers are significantly lower, this could show that the university has a considerably higher dropout rate. And because the UAE is multicultural, check the student population. Some students may prefer to join a university with similar ethnic makeup, whereas others may prefer a more multicultural environment.

7.  Internships and Work Experiences

Internships and working experience are necessary demands made by companies these days. Therefore, check and confirm if the university arranges internships during the study. Be sure to know which companies the university partners with and whether the jobs are available on campus. Also, find out whether the university has a careers and guidance counsellor.

Academic Support or Writing Centre

Most new undergraduate students often tend to overlook this important academic aspect. As such, explore the university’s level of support to new students. For instance, are there workshops on academic skills, using the library efficiently, and time management skills, among others? Often, a university with a writing centre with peer tutoring shows its habit of nurturing students during their studies.

8.  Technology or Online Learning

Often, most students only bother to find out whether the university has online learning after enrollment. However, it is important to check the learning management system used in the university and to what capacity. For instance, is there an online learning support team at the university? Remember that without a good support team, you will have difficulty with the learning management system if no staff is available to help.


Find out whether the university offers scholarships. Moreover, look into the scholarships they offer, the application process, documents and references needed. Be cautious of the universities that require you to enrol and pay upfront tuition fees, then apply for a scholarship later. So, if you fail to get the scholarship, you will be stranded, paying out of your pocket!


The United Arab Emirates is becoming one of the popular academic destinations for students looking for higher education. This is because the UAE government has been paying more attention to its higher education system in recent years, which is evident in the significant improvement of these institutions. Local and international students from neighbouring countries have begun considering the UAE as a number one destination for higher education.

So, if you are looking for a leading university in the UAE to enrol for your higher education, the top 5 best universities we have reviewed will suffice!

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