Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation STEM scholarship

They may be among the smartest science pupils in their schools, but their dream of attending a top university is threatened by sky-high fees their parents can’t afford. And so a Dhs4.2 billion education endowment scheme by the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation could be a lifeline for these three students and many others like, ensuring they will join the ranks of the UAE’s scientists and engineers.

7DAYS caught up with pupils who have applied for the first of 15,000 scholarships that will be given to young people over the next 10 years.

The aim is to ensure that bright pupils who would struggle to afford the typical Dhs90,000 per year fees can get a degree in science, maths, technology or engineering, skills that will be much sough after in the post-oil era Arab world. Successful candidates will begin studying in September or January.

Islam Atia

NAME: Islam Atia

DEGREE:Mechanical engineering

Egyptian science whiz Islam Alaa Atia, 16, dreams of becoming a mechanical engineer – and studying “day and night” has given him a grade of 97 per cent. But his dad already pays more than Dhs100,000 to send Islam’s siblings to school in Ras Al Khaimah and his chances of making it to college look bleak at present.

“I’m hoping to find a sponsor to cover my study in a high ranking university, such as the American University in Cairo or the American University of Sharjah,” he said. “Studying mechanical engineering is my dream but going to a good university is very expensive to cover.”

Islam’s father, Alaa Fathi Atia, who works for a pharmaceutical firm, said that for parents with several children, the costs quickly add up: “Education in the UAE is very expensive. “We’ve already had to pay for school fees and extra tuition. If a father has other children he has to support, he’s going to need help.”

Muaaz Farouk

NAME: Muaaz Farouk

DEGREE:Industrial engineering

Muaaz Farouk wants to secure a good job to support his family in Dubai. His dad has paid for the schooling of Muaaz and his four siblings on a salary of just Dhs18,000, and he wants a good engineering degree to make sure he can give something back. The 17-year-old Syrian said: “My dad earns just Dhs18,000 a month and he’s paying for my other siblings.

“There’s no way he can pay all of the bills, cover education and pay mine as well. I come from a family that really values education. My father has a PhD but from a university in Russia. He can’t use that degree here because it’s not much of a use in this part of the world. So, he decided to get just any job that can help him pay for our education. The scholarship would really help, so that when I graduate, I can take care of my family.”


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Rana Abukather

NAME: Rana Abukather

DEGREE:Chemical engineering

Most parents face high school fees – but for a family with six girls, it means most of their budget goes on schooling. Rana Abukather, 17, from Abu Dhabi, has “always dreamed” of becoming a engineer, but fears she will have to opt for a cheaper degree, like business studies.

She told 7DAYS: “I graduated with an average of 97.2. But if I don’t get the scholarship there is no way I can get this degree. It costs more than Dhs100,000 [per year]. “I’m really passionate about chemical engineering.” Rana hopes to attend American University of Sharjah, which is about Dhs45,000 per semester. Her dad already pays Dhs30,000 per year for two of her sisters to go to school. But another sister has a scholarship to study medicine. Rana said: “If I don’t get a scholarship, I’ll have to study something not too expensive. But I don’t want to do something I’m not passionate about for the rest of my life.”


Degrees come at a cost for families in UAE

Parents and prospective students face annual university fees of between Dhs50,000 and Dhs180,000 for a place at well-established universities, depending on the type of degree and prestige of the institution. So it is little surprise that more than 14,000 pupils have applied for funding from the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation, set up by the Al Ghurair family last year. Costs vary between degrees, but engineering courses are priced at about Dhs50,000 at Heriot-Watt University. This can rise to more than Dhs100,000 at the American University of Sharjah. NYU Abu Dhabi, which has become one of the country’s most prestigious universities, charges about Dhs180,000 per year. The children of UAE nationals and expats alike can consider studying abroad, where in some cases fees are lower. Annual fees in the UK start around Dhs40,000, although studying medicine can cost Dhs175,000. But in addition to the fees, students living in Dubai and Abu Dhabi face high living costs. NYU Abu Dhabi advises prospective students it can cost Dhs95,000 for room, meals and travel per year.

Help with fees to ‘ease the financial burden’

A growing number of schools are introducing full or partial scholarships as part of efforts to invest in the brightest youngsters and ease the financial burden for parents. King’s School, one of the most expensive in Dubai, announced it will offer six pupils the chance to study, with parents paying half of the Dhs88,000 annual fee for year 10, for example. In May, GEMS said it will provide 3,000 full scholarships in the coming years. School fees are among the largest outgoings for a family, and the cost of educating a child rose by 4.8 per cent this year compared to last, figures from the Dubai Statistics Centre showed in April. Lyn Soppelsa, a director at WhichSchoolAdvisor UAE, said: “With the large numbers of new schools that have opened in Dubai over the past two years – and a further 15 expected to open this September – there does seem to be a trend towards offering more incentives to parents to encourage enrolments at their schools. “If this enables students to attend schools offering a higher quality of education, or allows students with particular talents to be supported, this can only be a good development.”

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