Heriot-Watt University unveils plans for new complex in Dubai

By Jamie McIvor
BBC Scotland education correspondent

Image source, Heriot-Watt University
Image caption,
The new site will be built and ready for its first students in 2021

Heriot-Watt University is to move its operations in Dubai to a new state-of-the-art complex.

The Edinburgh-based institution has 4,000 students in the United Arab Emirates who will move to the new site in 2021.

Heriot-Watt opened its Dubai operation in 2005 and also has a campus in Malaysia.

The university has agreed a 10-year lease for a 218,000sq ft campus building in Dubai Knowledge Park.

It says the building will deliver "the latest innovations in business education, teaching and research".

Financial sustainability

The Dubai campus brings in income for the university and no money from UK taxpayers is used towards its costs.

The principal and vice-chancellor of Heriot-Watt, Professor Richard A. Williams, said he was "incredibly proud" that Heriot-Watt had built "the largest, most comprehensive and successful international university in the United Arab Emirates".

He added: "Our new campus signifies our commitment to Dubai as well as our investment in our students.

"Our Dubai campus already plays a vital part in the financial sustainability of the university and is a major part of our future through our globally-integrated Strategy 2025.

"This includes our vision to build on our reputation as a leading higher education institution in the Middle East, creating a centre for excellence in both teaching and research."

Image source, Heriot-Watt University

The Scottish government's education minister, Richard Lochhead MSP, described the project as "hugely ambitious"

He added that it was "a wonderful example of how Scotland continues to punch above its weight in terms of research, innovation and academic strength".

Mr Lochhead said: "I applaud Heriot-Watt for its vision to continue expanding what it offers to even more people and places - yet another demonstration to the world that Scotland is an open, welcoming and inclusive nation."

Earlier this year, the university received a five-star ranking from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, the body responsible for the quality of private education in Dubai.

It also currently holds the title Best University in the Middle East, awarded by Forbes.