Cheapest university in UAE for international students

Best universities in Abu Dhabi: Top-ranked institutions for higher education
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has carved out a reputation as a flourishing educational hub, attracting learners from across the globe with its vibrant campus life, state-of-the-art facilities, and diverse academic programs. However, for many international students, the deciding factor often boils down to cost. Understanding this crucial aspect, several universities in the UAE have structured their fee schedules to be more welcoming to budget-conscious scholars. These institutions have managed to strike a delicate balance, offering reputable education at more affordable rates, without compromising on quality.

Factors Affecting University Costs

When determining the cost of university education, international students should assess two primary factors: tuition fees and living expenses. Both can vary significantly based on a myriad of elements such as chosen academic program, lifestyle preferences, and location within the UAE.

Tuition Fees

Tuition is the pivotal expense for students, and it is influenced greatly by the specific courses and degree programs one opts for. For instance, science and engineering programs frequently have higher fees due to their specialized facilities and equipment, while humanities and arts may be relatively more cost-effective. To mitigate these costs, students should actively seek out scholarships and financial aid, as many universities offer substantial support based on academic merit, sports achievements, or financial need.

International students in the UAE typically encounter a tuition fee range that starts from as low as AED 30,000 (approximately USD 8,170) and can go up to AED 100,000 (approximately USD 27,225) or more annually. Nonetheless, several universities offer programs on the lower end of this spectrum, largely catering to those in search of more economic options.

Living Expenses

Accommodation commands a significant portion of a student’s budget next to tuition. Options within the student dorms can be cheaper and more convenient but vary widely among universities. On the other hand, renting out in the city could offer more independence but at a higher cost.

Here are key aspects of living expenses to consider:

  1. Accommodation costs: Campus dorms vs. private rentals.
  2. Lifestyle: Utilizing university resources, such as libraries and cafeterias, can reduce expenses.
  3. Food and transportation: Meal plans and public transport as means to budget management.
American University Abu Dhabi campus view with modern architecture and greenery

List of Cheapest Universities in the UAE for International Students

For those aspiring to study in the UAE at a favorable cost, certain universities stand out for their affordability. Here’s a list of institutions known for their lower tuition fees without compromising the quality of education:

University of Sharjah

1. Overview: Recognized for its diverse student body and academic quality, it is a favorite among cost-conscious international students.

2. Tuition fees: With fees starting at around AED 36,750 (USD 10,000) per year, scholarships available to further reduce costs.

Ajman University

1. Overview: This university prides itself on community engagement and innovative research opportunities.

2. Tuition fees: The yearly fees start from approximately AED 45,000 (USD 12,250), making it an affordable choice for many.

American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK)

1. Overview: Offering an American curriculum and a global perspective, AURAK is a gateway to international exposure at reasonable fees.

2. Tuition fees: Students can expect to pay from AED 30,000 (USD 8,170) per annum, one of the most economical options available.

UniversityAnnual Tuition Range (AED)Annual Tuition Range (USD)
University of Sharjah36,750 – 70,00010,000 – 19,050
Ajman University45,000 – 75,00012,250 – 20,415
American University of Ras Al Khaimah30,000 – 50,0008,170 – 13,612

Each university is unique in its offerings and financial assistance programs. International students are encouraged to explore scholarships and work-study options that can significantly drive down the cost of their education.

Tips on Reducing Educational Expenses

Strategies to economize one’s education in the UAE abound if one knows where to look. Apart from choosing a university that offers lower tuition fees, there are several ways students can manage their finances and reduce the overall cost of their education. Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Budgeting and Planning: Keeping a close tab on expenses and budgeting for essentials can prevent overspending and help allocate resources wisely.
  2. Part-Time Employment Opportunities: Many students opt for part-time jobs, within campus or outside, to cover some of their daily expenses. The UAE government also provides numerous work-study options for international students.
  3. Seeking Scholarships: Beyond the university-provided scholarships, several external organizations offer scholarships for international students in the UAE, worth exploring.
Best university in Abu Dhabi - Top-ranked institution for higher education

Success Stories of International Students in the UAE

The UAE is rich with success stories of international students who have leveraged the diverse and inclusive educational environment to catapult their careers. Here are a couple of narratives to inspire prospective students:

  1. Student Experiences: Many graduates share how the multicultural setting has prepared them for working in a global economy, and the practical learning approach has given them a competitive edge in the job market.
  2. Career Opportunities After Graduation: The international universities in UAE actively connect students with industry partners, often leading to fruitful career paths in multinational companies within the UAE and abroad.

It is common to find alumni who highlight the career support provided by their educational institutes in Abu Dhabi and other cities, which helped them secure job placements soon after graduation.

Retaining the Title of the Cheapest University in Abu Dhabi

While identifying the most affordable option, students frequently inquire about the cheapest university in Abu Dhabi. Despite the city’s high cost of living, Abu Dhabi boasts institutions like Abu Dhabi University, famous for offering competitive fees and extensive scholarship opportunities.

Embracing American Universities in Abu Dhabi

American universities in Abu Dhabi, such as New York University Abu Dhabi, also extend need-based financial aid to international students, enabling access to an American-style education at a substantially lower cost than one would expect. The emphasis on diversity, innovation, and financial inclusion at these universities aligns with the cosmopolitan character of the UAE.

Free universities in UAE for international students - explore your options today!


Affordable education in the UAE is not an oxymoron; it is a reality for those who are aware and resourceful. From the University of Sharjah to American universities in Abu Dhabi, students have a constellation of options that combine quality education with financial viability. As long as international students are well-informed about their choices and diligent in seeking out financial avenues, the UAE remains a land of academic opportunity.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What makes the University of Sharjah one of the cheapest universities in the UAE?

The University of Sharjah offers competitive tuition fees starting around AED 36,750, coupled with a range of scholarship options that make it one of the most affordable choices for international students in the UAE.

2. Are there any affordable educational institutes in Abu Dhabi for international students?

Yes, Abu Dhabi has institutions like Abu Dhabi University which offer affordable tuition rates and substantial financial aid packages that help reduce the financial burden on international students.

3. How can I find part-time employment as an international student in the UAE?

International students can explore on-campus jobs or seek employment through university career services. The UAE government’s regulations also provide certain opportunities for students to work part-time with proper authorization.

4. Are American universities in Abu Dhabi more expensive than other local universities?

While American universities in Abu Dhabi might have higher tuition fees, they often provide generous financial aid that can significantly lower the education cost for eligible international students.

5. What kind of career opportunities can international students expect after graduating from international universities in the UAE?

Graduates can expect a wide range of opportunities, including roles in international corporations, local companies, startups, or even entrepreneurial ventures, especially given the UAE’s focus on economic diversification and global business engagement.