In June, the 2020 QS World Rankings announced that Ajman University (AU) is ranked in the top 800 higher education institutions in the world. Established in 1988 as the first private university in the GCC, AU is now recognised as one of the best 2.8 per cent of global universities. Only 26 universities from the Arab Region are among the top 800.
The QS World Rankings also rated AU as among the top 10 in the world for international students and faculty; and, in April, the QS Intelligence Unit awarded the university the maximum Five QS Stars in the three categories of social responsibility, inclusiveness, and learning environment.
The university’s Chancellor, Dr Karim Seghir says that AU’s recognition is indicative of the dynamic approach it takes in educating students. “The ranking reflects the high quality of education that Ajman University is committed to,” he says. “It sends a very strong message to our prospective students about the quality of the experience at Ajman University – not only in terms of academic rigour, but also in terms of a hands-on approach to learning.”
Dr Seghir believes that in addition to strong academic values, all students should earn life experience through projects or initiatives that are relevant to the current and future jobs market and their roles in society. He says that vocational training should extend beyond what he refers to as a classical internship. “The faculty use numerous hands-on tools such as games, simulations, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. We also have many projects that are related to the community and social responsibility.
“It is important to have an incubator for start-ups and to engage students in the journey of entrepreneurship. They do so either by working with start-ups or by launching their own businesses. We provide the mentorship, training, design, marketing and seed money to test the experience before graduation.”
An area of education that Dr Seghir is particularly passionate about is emotional intelligence. He refers to the fact that Forbes actually rates emotional intelligence as one of the top three skills required to succeed in the jobs market – as opposed to technical skills, which are considered the seventh-most important attribute. “Our mission is to graduate responsible citizens with well-rounded minds,” he says.
The Chancellor also emphasises the importance of the relationships the university has nurtured with public and private entities. He mentions a recent collaboration with one of the world’s leading integrated transportation companies, Alstom, where 16 AU undergraduates participated in an intensive two-week training programme.
Dr Seghir says that another four AU students worked with the Department of Economic Development in Ajman on the creation of a digital platform – designed to be used as a resource for businesses and investors, driving economic growth in the emirate. The university has also received awards for multiple projects. “In the past couple of months, our students earned the top three places in the UAE Hackathon, which was about innovation,” he says. “We also earned top places in the IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers] competition, which is renowned throughout the region.”
Strength in diversity
One of the qualities that Dr Seghir believes differentiates Ajman University from competitors is a depth of diversity. AU’s 6,270 students represent 72 different nationalities – the 6th most diverse student population among the world’s universities, according to QS. Furthermore, AU’s financial aid packages make the dream of a university education a reality for students from all socio-economic backgrounds. In fact, more than 60 per cent of students at AU receive some form of financial assistance.
“These values are the directives of the board of trustees, chaired by His Highness Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council and Ruler of Ajman. The cost of higher education should not be an obstacle for anyone. If someone is really bright and committed to higher education, then we help them by providing aid and scholarships.”
This sense of community and compassion extends beyond the campus. The university operates a mobile dental clinic, which has provided treatments to more than 1,000 patients in the four months since its debut. The university also holds an onsite clinic, which treats more than 500 members of the public each day. Students have also travelled to countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, India and Nepal, where they have carried out charity work.
“I think that what makes Ajman University unique is the commitment of our stakeholders. People associated with AU are impactful and effective – which is exactly why our moto is “make it happen,” says Dr Seghir. “When we talk about social responsibility or high standards of education, we’re actually making it happen right here and right now. We are fortunate to have many like-minded people – friends, alumni, and partners – who share and support our vision of being internationally recognized as one of the leading universities in the Arab world for our cutting-edge learning environment, impactful research, responsible outreach and community engagement.”