University's Dubai Campus generates huge economic benefits



Heriot-Watt's Dubai Campus delivers benefits worth £94m (AED 520.0 million) a year to the local economy, according to a specially commissioned report by an independent economic consultancy.

Our Dubai Campus has allowed students from the UAE and a wide range of other countries to study for a top quality UK degree programme in subjects which are relevant to the demands of their local economies.
Professor Richard A Williams

The successful Campus, established in 2005, now has almost 4,000 students representing more than 100 nationalities and studying at levels from foundation courses to PhDs.

The new report, produced by independent economic consultants BiGGAR Economics, was unveiled by Heriot-Watt University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard A Williams, at the British Council's 'Going Global 2016' conference in Cape Town, South Africa. 

It notes that the economic impact of the Dubai campus has grown significantly in recent years, up an estimated 300% since a similar report in 2011. It also estimated that, with ambitious plans for a growth in student numbers and the fact that the Campus is attracting growing research income from public and private sources, this impact could be expected to continue to grow significantly in years to come.

Speaking to the Going Global conference on the subject of 'Building Nations and Connecting Cultures', Professor Williams stressed that, as the first overseas university in Dubai's International Academic City, Heriot-Watt has played a hugely important role in the development of the Dubai higher education sector, establishing a successful model of transnational education which others have adopted, as well as supporting Dubai's aim of economic growth underpinned by diversified economic activity.

Professor Williams said, “Since it was launched in 2005 our Dubai campus has been a tremendous success for our students and as part of the University's long-term international strategy, so it's heartening to have this confirmation that it also provides large scale and long-term benefits to the economy and community which hosts it.

“Our Dubai Campus has allowed students from the UAE and a wide range of other countries to study for a top quality UK degree programme, nearer to their home, in subjects which are relevant to the demands of their local economies. The growth and success of the campus has helped to underpin Heriot-Watt's international strategy and our transnational programme of education where students are encouraged to spend part of their course studying the same programme in a different country, be that at our UK, Dubai or Malaysia campuses.

“Now we have a detailed view of the value which the Dubai Campus adds to the local economy through the long term returns of its teaching activity across a range of areas. The skills and knowledge acquired by our students enable them to become more productive, successful employees. A high percentage of them stay in the UAE to work after graduating, driving the economy, creating solutions for industry and contributing to the region.”

Lifetime productivity gains from the most recent cohort of Heriot-Watt Dubai graduates are estimated to contribute over £100million (AED 559.8 million) in Dubai alone and over £123million (AED 678.8 million) for the United Arab Emirates.

Warren Fox, Chief of Higher Education, Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), said, “Dubai has emerged as a top-quality higher education destination in the Middle East and the presence of successful branch campuses like Heriot-Watt has allowed students from the wider region to access international programmes. We encourage high quality provision of qualifications and programmes by foreign Higher Education Providers (HEPs) as a way of supporting the development of Dubai's strategic objectives.”

The report shows that direct employment, spending by employees on goods and services and capital investments made a contribution to the local economy of £43m and 518 jobs in the UAE, the majority in Dubai. Student spending is estimated to make a contribution to the economy of £44m and 581 Jobs in the UAE. The tourism and travel impact of students, staff, friends and family attending university and related events were estimated to contribute £6.4m and 116 jobs. This totals an annual economic impact valued at £94m. This figure includes the fact that the campus supports a total of 1,215 jobs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) valued at £83.5 million (AED 460.2 million) of which 1,065 jobs were in Dubai. Every job at the campus supports a further eight jobs in the wider UAE community.

For further information on the report, please contact Ruth Moir, Assistant Principal (International Development) at