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The IUP Journal of Entrepreneurship Development :
Entrepreneurial Perceptions Among the Expatriate Graduate Students in the UAE: An Empirical Study
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According to a study conducted by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) in 2015, UAE is emerging at the average rate of 4.1% as the attractive destination for small and medium scale start-up investments in the field of retail, education, restaurant, tourism, software services, etc. The study further revealed that the concept is fast catching up among the local population and the expatriates living in this country. The present research attempts to evaluate the perceptions of the expatriate students pursuing graduate studies in two major disciplines, namely, business and engineering, at eight institutions located at three Emirates—Dubai, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah. For the purpose of the study, a sample of 160 students was randomly chosen and a structured questionnaire, designed exclusively for the purpose of the present study, was administered to collect data from them. The feedback collected through the questionnaire was later analyzed through standard statistical tools. The findings reveal that curriculum, training environment and family support play an important role in promoting entrepreneurship among the expatriate graduate and postgraduate students of UAE.

 
 
 

Entrepreneurship and start-ups are two buzzwords, nowadays, across the globe. United Arab Emirates (UAE) is considered as the main epicenter of vibrant economic activities in the Middle-East region in specific and one of the major centers of economic growth drivers in the world. With the growth of institutions offering undergraduate and postgraduate level education in the fields of business, engineering, information technology, media, design, health and medicine, humanities, education, tourism and hospitality, law, architecture and construction, natural and physical sciences, commerce and accounting, UAE is also fast emerging as an international destination to attract a large number of expatriate students from around 100 countries. Many of these students have been born and brought up here, and many have come for the purpose of studying.

According to an observation in 2015 by UAE’s higher education authority, the number of higher education institutions is steadily growing across all the Emirates. These include government-run and local institutions and universities, academic centers and branch campuses of foreign institutions and universities. Another study predicted that the nation will witness a phenomenal growth in student enrollment in graduation and higher education levels in UAE by 2022. According to this study, the present annual growth rate of around 5% in student enrollment in graduate and postgraduate courses will increase up to 11% by that time (Rabertkin and Stephen, 2015). Based on the current higher education model of UAE, they have conducted the study and identified some areas such as relative affordability of higher education from reputed institutions, constant monitoring of quality in academic delivery by local government authorities, relatively easy visa system, and multi-cultural environment, for the steady growth in the number of student enrollment from different parts of the world, mainly from Asia and MENA region. Neilep (2015) predicted that annual enrollment in higher education institutions and universities in UAE will increase from below 50,000 to more than 90,000 by 2021, and a majority of such enrollments will be by the expatriates’ children or the students who will exclusively immigrate to UAE for study.

In the context of this huge increase in demand for higher education in UAE, the possibilities of absorbing a large majority of such students cannot be denied. As the industry in UAE is growing steadily, in spite of temporary downtrends during recessions in early 2000, the possibilities of employment opportunities for those who have completed their graduation or postgraduation education in UAE cannot be ignored. However, as per the recent policy framework, governments of several emirates are not only making and updating favorable provisions in the policies to encourage start-ups in different parts of UAE, but also have been consistently promoting a culture of entrepreneurship in UAE. According to a report, published by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) in 2015, UAE is emerging at the average rate of 4.1% as an attractive destination for small and medium scale start-up investments in the field of retail, education, restaurant, tourism, software services, etc. The report has observed that the trend is fast catching up among the local nationals and the expats living in this country. A study by Arkilson (2013) has revealed that favorable government policy, developed infrastructure, hassle-free fast decision at the regulatory level, stable market demand, availability of skilled manpower, growing global linkages, etc. have played a significant role in developing the investor-friendly image of the country across the globe and are responsible for such a steady growth in entrepreneurship in the country. In this context, the present study intends to relate the growth scenario of UAE’s higher education to the possible growth in the number of entrepreneurs in this country. The study focuses specifically on the expatriate students as the support they might receive from this socio-political environment is very much different from the support local Emirati nationals receive. Already, expatriates from more than 180 countries are staying in this country and have made UAE their homes, and students of around 100 nationalities are pursuing their graduate and postgraduate education in this country (Richard and Srinivasan, 2014). It is understood that many of them will turn into entrepreneurs in future in UAE as well. Therefore, an understanding of their mindsets and perceptions about entrepreneurship ventures in UAE is needed, and the same can help us in identifying some possible areas of interventions to further improve the condition of staring and doing business in UAE.

 
 
 

Entrepreneurship Development Journal, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) , Entrepreneurial Perceptions ,the Expatriate Graduate Students in the UAE, Empirical Study