An investigation into links between UAE STI Policy and the Federal Universities STEM Majors’ Enrolments, Graduates and Research Development: an evidence-based exploration of the impact of UAE STI policy

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
The current study investigates the impact of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) STI policy initiatives on STEM majors’ enrolments, graduates and research and development within Higher Education Institutions within the UAE. A sequential exploratory mixed method approach was used, which involves initial qualitative stage of data collection and analysis exploring to what extent the STEM programs enrolments, graduates, R&D has changed, while the second stage interprets and explores the findings using quantitative data analysis. In summary, the research findings show that STI policy has influenced STEM majors HEI enrolments in two federal universities: Zayed University (ZU) and Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), where there was an accelerated enrolment like other countries, such as ASEAN and BRIC countries. The major STEM enrolments were seen in the engineering, and computer sciences. Zayed University-Dubai had greater STEM majors’ enrolments compared to Zayed University-Abu Dhabi. HCT STEM majors’ graduates showed no significant differences from AY 2010 to the AY 2017; the latter shows that although STEM enrolments have increased in HCT, graduates of STEM are consistent and unchanged, meaning that somewhere during their tertiary education, students are not continuing their studies in STEM majors. In terms of United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), there has been a decrease in STEM programs enrolment, while STEM graduates in UAEU has stayed steady at 1/3 STEM majors compared to 2/3 non-STEM programs. The results confirm previous studies findings and expectations where it showed that more male students than female students enroll in STEM programs in both HCT and UAEU. In terms of R&D, UAEU has shown improvement on the global ranking, ZU has shown a slowdown in R&D. Therefore, in terms of R&D, the impact of STI policy could not be ascertained and further investigations looking at detailed HEI data are recommended.
STI policy, UAE higher education, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Research & Development (R&D), STEM programs