An inherent challenge within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) higher education sector is the absence of both comprehensive system of data collection and consistency in the use of indictors among a variety of collection projects. At the root of this distributed system is a federal arrangement with two levels of government potentially involved in licensing and supervision combined with a series of academic “free zones” that can have unique or limited regulatory controls. As a result, there is a very limited systematic collection of institutional data in the country’s dynamic higher education sector, which hampers the alignment of planning activities and reduces the ability of institutions to benchmark performance with peers. To address this issue, an ambitious attempt to consolidate higher education data collection in the UAE is being developed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research through the creation of Centre for Higher Education Data and Statistics (CHEDS). Combining the best international practices and an inclusive stakeholder-focused approach, CHEDS designed a system to collect raw data from institutions and then convert this data into a set of indicators with the potential for distribution to the public. The critical element for developing a truly comprehensive system is the degree to which international branch campuses of foreign institutions voluntarily participate, for these institutions tend to be located in the free zones and are therefore outside the jurisdiction of the central government ministry overseeing the CHEDS. If successful in recruiting these institutions, CHEDS has the potential to create a truly cooperative system of data collection that should be regionally replicated or even expanded to encompass other countries within the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Shroff, S. and Kratochvil, D. (2018), "Developing National Higher Education Indicators: Lessons and Opportunities from the UAE", Wiseman, A. and Davidson, P. (Ed.) Cross-nationally Comparative, Evidence-based Educational Policymaking and Reform (International Perspectives on Education and Society, Vol. 35), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 197-216. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-367920180000035012Download as .RIS
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