Higher Education Provider Application

Higher Education Provider Application

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:

  1. Establish a Higher Education Provider Branch Campus (HEP Branch) of an internationally accredited higher education institution.  This is only permitted inside Dubai Free Zones and comes under the direct authority of the KHDA; or
  2. Establish a private higher education institution (HEP Private) with local accreditation from the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) and institutional licensure through the Ministry of Education inside or outside Dubai Free Zones.

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.

  1. Name and a description of the HEP (mission and vision, legal status and staffing profile).
  2. Proposed application process: (International HEP Branch Campus or HEP Private)
  3. Proposed name of the institution. 
  4. Proposed legal status of the institution (for a HEP Branch application include the current legal status of the HEP Home).
  5. Proposed governance structure of the institution. In the case of a HEP Branch, provide the Board Resolution from the highest governing body at the HEP Home authorizing the establishment of the HEP Branch Campus in Dubai.
  6. Details of proposed accreditation/quality assurance for the institution.
  7. Details of shareholders and their experience in higher education and any previous applications to the KHDA for any educational services.
  8. Overview of the proposed quality assurance system for the institution. In the case of a HEP Branch, include details of experience of transnational higher education including programme partnerships and international HEP Branch Campuses.
  9. Proposed programmes and level of programme offering over a five year period.
  10. Confirmation of the language to be used in teaching and assessment.
  11. Details of consultants, if any, who will be involved in the preparation of the application.
  12. Completed Shareholder Declaration Form which can be found in Appendix A. 
  13. Where any of the shareholders are currently involved in any educational services in the Emirate of Dubai, a No Objection Letter must be obtained from all existing educational partners. This letter must indicate that they are aware of the current application for the establishment of a higher education institution and that they have no objection to the submission of the application.
    If approved, the applicant will be invited to proceed to Phase 2 Registration of the application process.

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:

  1.  Details of the nominated Academic Head:
    a. A letter from the Shareholders/Investor appointing the Academic Head
    b. A letter of appointment from the HEP Home confirming the appointment of the Academic Head, in the case of a HEP Branch Campus.
    c. Valid Passport copy
    d. Copy of CV
    e. Copy of highest earned credential
    f. Completed Specimen Signature
    g. A no objection certificate from the current sponsor, if applicable

  2. Details of the shareholders/investors: 
    a. Valid Passport copy
    b. Copy of CV
    c. Copy of credentials
    d. Completed Specimen Signature(s)
    e. Details of other educational business operations
    f. Copy of Commercial License, in the case of a company
    g. Certificate of Good Standing, in the case of a company
    h. Copy of the Company’s Board Resolution(in the case of a company)

  3. Details of proposed programme offering.  The following documents must be submitted for each proposed programme:
    a. Overall description of the programme with curricular design and learning outcomes.
    b. Describe the added value of the programme to the overall higher education landscape of Dubai.
    c. Description of target market and evidence of both student and employer needs. Describe the process and results used to establish the needs. Provide the full study and summary of findings.
    d. Programme projected yearly enrolment for five years. What evidence (surveys, focus groups, documented enquiries, etc.) were used to support enrolment projections and to support the conclusion that interest in this programme is sufficient to meet the needs of the market?
    e. Include plans for faculty recruitment, research and library resources for this programme

  4. Copy of the final agreement between the Educational Services Provider and the HEP Branch Campus.
  5. Responsibility matrix clearly outlining the roles, responsibilities and accountability of the investor, venture partner or Educational Services Provider supporting the operations of the HEP Branch and a letter from the HEP Home confirming its academic responsibilities towards the HEP Branch.
  6. Student Grievance Policy & Process (including explanation of any variances from the policy and processes in use at the HEP).
  7. Confirmation from the HEP Home that the programmes offered at the HEP Branch are the same as those offered at the HEP Home, and that the students at the HEP Branch will have access to similar learning resources.
  8. Letter from HEP Home confirming that the HEP Home External Quality Assurance Agency will quality assure all academic programmes at the HEP Branch.
  9. Letter from the HEP Home External Quality Assurance Agency confirming that they will quality assure the programmes at the HEP Branch Campus.
  10. Proposed location and size of the institution and details of facilities and instructional/teaching space
  11. Plans for faculty recruitment, research and library resources
  12. Financial projections for five years, including projected income (profit and loss) statements for five years and cash flow statements
  13. Proof of availability of adequate funds to meet capital expenditure and operational expenditure requirements of the institution
  14. Demonstrate fiscal capacity in the event of programme closure to complete teach out of students or other KHDA approved alternatives
  15. Any proposed collaborative agreements or professional certifications/accreditations
  16. In the case of a Private Higher Education Institution, submit a copy of the standards documents submitted to the Commission for Academic Accreditation under the Ministry of Education.

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. 


Free Zone
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”.

HEP Branch
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.

HEP Home
A HEP at its registered place of origin.

HEP Private
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:
We, ________________________________________________________________________________
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:

  • Not to mislead or misrepresent the Academic Institution, nor to provide false documents/ statements or information to the Authority. 
  • Notify KHDA of any changes to documents/ information previously submitted to the Authority and ensure that KHDA is notified of any changes to the Academic Institutions status/ circumstances as outlined in the regulations and guidelines of the KHDA.
  • Not to interfere in the academic affairs of the institution as set by the HEP or take up any positions at the HEP (branch or home campus).

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: __________________________________________

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