The development of a quality higher education system is a strategic priority of the Emirate of Dubai. The emphasis is on improving access to quality higher education and increasing student enrollment, especially for UAE nationals. The provision of quality higher education in Dubai will equip young people with the knowledge, skills and attributes that will help shape the economic future of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) of the Government of Dubai has the responsibility under Law 30 (2006) and The Executive Council Resolution No. 21 (2011) to regulate and oversee higher educational institutions, to establish review procedures, request data and information, and make recommendations and decisions on the establishment of all these types of educational institutions. Furthermore, Law No. 8 (2012) allows for government supported higher education providers (HEP) located outside Dubai Free Zones to fall under the responsibility of Resolution 21 for regulation and oversight by the KHDA. The KHDA implements these requirements through the Regulation and Permits Commission, the regulatory arm of the KHDA.
The KHDA seeks to sustain an environment of approved, quality institutions to meet the needs of students, the economy and the development of the Emirate of Dubai. A permit must be obtained from the KHDA by any educational institution offering educational services in Dubai. An applicant has 2 options:
Further details on regulations pertaining to higher education institution can be found in The Executive Council Resolution No. 21 (2011) and the relevant bylaws on the KHDA website (www.khda.gov.ae).
Applicants are required to follow the guidelines and provide the listed documents in their submission. In this way all potential applicants are aware of the process and have equal access to the application procedures. All applicants are expected to submit an original application and any supporting documentation that is required by the KHDA.
Phase 1: Eligibility Application (10 working days)
The Eligibility Application is Phase 1 of the application process for establishing a higher education institution in the Emirate of Dubai. In Phase 1 the following information should be submitted to the KHDA electronically via the following email account (HEPD@khda.gov.ae). Upon submission of a completed Eligibility Application, the KHDA will conduct a review and issue a decision within 10 working days.
Phase 2: Registration (30 working days)
Phase 2 Registration applicants must register through the KHDA e-services system for the establishment of the HEP. This can be done through the following link: http://www.khda.gov.ae/en
The following documents must be submitted in Phase 2:
Upon submission of a completed Phase 2 Registration application a non-refundable payment of 45,000 AED processing fee will be applied. The KHDA will conduct a review and issue a decision regarding the application within 30 working days. If approved, the applicant will be invited to proceed to Phase 3 Quality Review of the application process.
Phase 3 : Quality Review (Subject to Submission Date*)
The process for Phase 3 Quality Review will be determined by whether the application is to establish a HEP Branch of a higher education institution from an internationally accredited institution (HEP Branch) or the establishment of a private higher education institution with local accreditation from the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) and institutional licensure through the Ministry of Education (HEP Private).
HEP Branch applicants are required to submit the initial HEP Branch approval and the initial validation and registration of programmes documentation to the KHDA. There are two submission dates for this documentation, 1st February or 1st September. The documentation requirements can be found in the UQAIB Manual which can be accessed on the KHDA website under Publications at the following link:
Documentation will be reviewed by the University Quality Assurance Board (UQAIB) of the KHDA. HEP Branch applicants who successfully complete the Phase 3 Quality Review stage of the application process will proceed to Phase 4 Commercial Licensure and KHDA Permit Issuance.
For those applying as a HEP Private, a No Objection Letter will be issued to the Ministry of Education for the processing of Institutional licensure and individual programme accreditation. The institution will also be issued a No Objection Letter for the commercial licensing authority. Once a No Objection Letter has been issued by the KHDA, applicants that intend to establish their institution in a Dubai Free Zone can proceed to Phase 4 of the application process.
*Complete submissions received by 1st February will normally receive a decision by mid-April and 1st September complete submissions by mid-December.
Phase 4 : Commercial Licensure and KHDA Permit Issuance (7 working days)
When a HEP Branch application has been reviewed by the UQAIB at one of their bi-annual meetings and a positive recommendation has been made, the HEP Branch will be issued with a No Objection Letter to proceed with commercial licensure and campus set-up.
Upon receipt of a commercial license, the KHDA will process the educational tariffs as outlined in Schedule 1 of The Executive Council Resolution No. 21 (2011) and issue the KHDA Permit.
In the case of a HEP Private, the KHDA will require institutional licensure and initial programme accreditation from the Ministry of Education to issue the KHDA Permit.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q What is the processing time for obtaining a KHDA Permit?
A The processing time for approval varies depending on the requested educational sector. The average processing time on a completed application is approximately 30 days from submission of a completed application.
Q Are there KHDA requirements on facilities for operating an educational institution?
A It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that they have secured the appropriate facilities for the establishment of the educational institution. KHDA will confirm that the facilities are ready and suitable for the provision of educational programmes.
Q Can we offer online education in the Emirate of Dubai?
A Currently online programmes are not Permitted by the KHDA. All teaching must have a face to face teaching component at least 50% of the time.
Q Does the KHDA certify academic awards?
A KHDA certifies the academic awards of those institutions permitted by the KHDA offering programmes registered or recognized by the KHDA.
Zones established in Dubai that allow up to 100 percent foreign ownership and that target specific commercial activities.
Higher Education Provider (typically a university, college, academy, or institute which provides academic programmes leading to the awarding of higher education qualifications). Sometimes generically referred to as “institution”.
A HEP located in a Dubai Free Zone, which acts for, and on behalf of, and in the name of a HEP headquartered outside the Free Zone (usually in another country). It is not necessary for the HEP Branch to represent the entire breadth of the HEP Home’s activities. An HEP Branch may, for example, pertain to a particular college, faculty or graduate school.
A HEP at its registered place of origin.
A HEP established in the Emirate of Dubai for the purposes of offering programmes accredited locally by the Commission for Academic Accreditation and institutional licensure from the Ministry of Education.
Universities Quality Assurance International Board. A board established and supported by the authority of KHDA, which provides advice to KHDA on (a) Academic Authorisations and (b) Programme Registration.
Appendix A: Shareholder Declaration Form
This document is a deceleration to be signed and dated by the Educational Services Provider or venture partner listed on the application as the main investor(s) in the establishment of the Higher Education Institution. This document must be submitted as part of the Phase 1 Eligibility Application documentation.
The contents of the document are as follows:
The Academic Services Providers, venture partners for ______________________________________ do hereby declare that we will comply with all Laws and regulations enforced in the UAE and the Emirate of Dubai, and all regulations, guidelines and procedures issued by KHDA for the duration of the Academic Permit. More specifically, we confirm that we will:
We further certify that we have read and understood the KHDA regulations and will comply with all KHDA, the Emirate of Dubai and UAE regulations.
Applicant Signature:___________________________________ Date:______________________
Print Name: __________________________________________