Minister who set up tech institutes out of own pocket urges generosity from state

July 7, 2006

The United Arab Emirates' Higher Education Minister, His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, is pushing the Government for more money to finance the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCTs).

Higher education institutions demanding more money is a familiar story in the UK but one that sits at odds with Western perceptions of the UAE as a country rolling in oil money, writes Anthea Lipsett.

"The Government has to invest in education," Sheikh Nahayan said. "The HCTs aren't growing at the expansion rate of the population. Without the budget coming accordingly, we can't continue to fund it all."

Sheikh Nahayan set up the HCTs with his own money in 1998, after the cabinet approved a proposal to establish them but could not finance them.

"I was still chairman of a bank so I took the money from my own account. In the first three years, there was no government money for them," he said.

While the Government now funds the HCTs, the budget is not growing at the same pace as the population, and student numbers are being frozen at 16,000.

Sheikh Nahayan said: "If we do not accept students now, we will need to close some of the programmes because they will not be viable. It will create a downward spiral."

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