Thousands of international students choose to pursue their education in this sunny part of the world, where they can enjoy great weather and beaches, as well as various fun activities, such as desert safaris, kayaking, surfing, or sky diving.
While all this sounds great, you should know that the UAE is not exactly cheap. This is why we’ve done some research and put together a guide with all the relevant information about tuition fees and living costs.
Let’s dive right in!
1. University tuition fees in the United Arab Emirates
Tuition fees at public universities
Public universities in the UAE are free to establish their own tuition policy. In general, international students can expect to pay anywhere between 5,000 and 27,650 EUR per academic year. You can also find cheaper — and sometimes free — study programmes, but these are few and far between.
The tuition is calculated based on the total number of credit hours for each programme. For example, if a Master's in Education requires 36 credit hours to graduate, and the fee for 1 credit hour is 371 EUR, you will pay around 13,355 EUR for the full academic programme.
Tuition fees at private universities
Just like public universities, private education institutions have the right to establish their own tuition fees. These are often higher, but that’s not always the case. For example, at the American University in the Emirates, the fee for 1 credit hour ranges between 285 and 405 EUR.
Most affordable universities in the UAE
Based on the data and study programmes listed on our portals, these are some of the more affordable universities in the United Arab Emirates:
- Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence: Masters start at 0 EUR/year
- Université de Paris – Abu Dhabi Campus: Masters start at 245 EUR/year
- Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani – Dubai Campus: Bachelors start at 1,240 EUR/year
Tuition fees at top-ranked universities
- United Arab Emirates University – between 371 and 1,950 EUR for 1 credit hour
- Khalifa University – between 774 and 1,550 EUR for 1 credit hour
- University of Sharjah – between 243 and 2,015 EUR for 1 credit hour
The number of credit hours varies from one academic programme to another.
2. Student living costs in the United Arab Emirates
As an international student, you need between 650 and 1,300 EUR to cover monthly costs of living in the UAE. Accommodation will be your biggest expense, but personal spending habits and your lifestyle can increase or decrease the budget.
The official currency is the United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED). At the time of writing this article, 4.30 dirhams equal 1 euro.
3. Student accommodation costs
These are the most popular types of accommodation for students in the UAE:
- university housing (on-campus or off-campus housing): prices and facilities vary from one institution to another. For example, the United Arab Emirates University charges 1,300 EUR per semester, while the University of Sharjah charges between 565 and 1,970 EUR per year.
- renting a flat: total costs vary depending on the type of apartment (1–3 rooms), the proximity to the city centre, and so on. Full rent for a flat will set you back between 730 and 2,000 EUR per month. Don’t forget about monthly utilities (150–230 EUR). Sharing an apartment with other students is a great way of reducing your overall expenses.
4. Food costs in the UAE
Based on their eating habits, international students can expect to pay anywhere between 185 and 300 EUR per month on food and groceries. These are some of the average prices for food products in the United Arab Emirates:
- 1 loaf of bread: 1.05 EUR
- 1 litre of milk: 1.30 EUR
- 12 eggs: 2.25 EUR
- 1 kg of local cheese: 8.30 EUR
- 1 kg of apples: 1.75 EUR
- 1 kg of bananas: 1.40 EUR
- 1 meal at affordable restaurants: 7 EUR
Check out other living costs in the UAE.
5. Transportation costs
A monthly pass for public transport costs around 55 EUR, but students may benefit from discounts. Buses are the most common type of public transport, but there are other options like taxis, bikes, and metro (or subway) in some cities.
Did you know that the metro in Dubai is the longest automated metro network in the world? It is almost 75 km long and runs without any human driver.
6. Extra costs in the United Arab Emirates
- student visa fee: prices vary because some universities offer visa sponsorships
- entertainment (cinema, concerts, sports): 50–120 EUR/month
- private medical insurance: depends on the provider, the type of medical cover, and so on. Expect to pay at least 100 EUR per month.
7. University scholarships and grants
Some universities in the United Arab Emirates offer scholarships and other types of financial aid programmes. Their official website is the best place to learn more about them. You can also search for scholarships on Scholarshipportal.com.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to apply for our Studyportals Scholarship: International Distinction Awards.