Why studying in Qatar is becoming a top choice for thousands
As the Qatari government continues to invest into their education sector, more and more students are choosing this vibrant and diverse country to study towards their higher education.
Although best known for its exceptional architecture and thriving tourism, Qatar is steadily becoming a popular choice for students looking for a higher education. With campuses of some of the most prestigious universities across the world — Carnegie Mellon and Georgetown USA to name a few — students are able to take advantage of a Western education in a sunnier, more opulent setting.
In the last eight years the Qatari government has shifted more of its focus towards investing in their education sector. By building universities, reforming the school system, improving vocational training and setting up an international forum for finding the most effective forms of innovation, Qatar has become a significant player in the education field, leading in originality and excellence.
Education City is another testament to the government’s commitment to improving the education sector in Qatar.
Located in Al Rayyan City on the outskirts of Doha, this relatively small city houses educational facilities from school age to research level and branch campuses of some of the world’s major universities.
As well as being home to some of the world’s leading educational institutes, you will also find a homegrown research university, start-up incubators, technology parks, heritage sites, cultural institutions, and so much more.
Not too far away from Education City, you will also find Qatar University — the country’s oldest university and one of the most popular and sought-after institutions in the city.
According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, it ranks 401 of the top 500 universities in the world. The university has nine colleges, including schools for education, business and economics, arts and sciences, engineering, sharia, pharmacy, law and medicine, and caters to approx. 20,000 students, 38% who are international.
Requirements to study in Qatar
If you are interested in pursuing higher education in Qatar there are some requirements that you will need to meet.
You will need a Qatari residence permit in order to apply to university in Qatar. If you don’t have one (or are applying from outside Qatar) you’ll have to apply for a student visa when you make your university application.
English is the main spoken language in Qatari universities, so international students must demonstrate strong English skills in order to study in Qatar. This might require applicants to undertake written and oral tests.
Overseas applicants will need to have certain qualifications in order to apply for university in Qatar. The country recognises International Baccalaureate (IB) diplomas and British A-Levels for undergraduate admissions, but if you have a qualification from a different system, it may need to be attested by your local Qatari embassy.
Take part in a Qatar exchange programme
Immerse yourself in Qatar’s rich culture and enrich your learning experience by spending a semester at Qatar University through their highly sought-after student exchange programme.
For engineering and science students there are opportunities within the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience programme, which gives you the chance to gain hands-on experience with an employer in 88 countries around the world.
Student life in Qatar
Students in Qatar can forget about sororities and bar crawls — the focus here is mainly on studying and learning. This is partly down to restrictions on buying and selling alcohol — Qatar has a predominantly Muslim population with more conservative values than that of its neighbours.
Students looking to immerse themselves in different cultures won’t find a more diverse and welcoming country like Qatar, which welcomes people of all backgrounds. Events, like community iftaris during the holy month of Ramadan, are a big part of student life and can be a great way to learn about Qatari culture. Universities also offer a range of student activities; from sports like cricket and football to volunteering and special interest clubs.
Many students also enjoy exploring Doha’s culinary scene and going on cultural excursions. And don’t forget the array of museums, exhibitions, cinemas, and theatre shows to check out.
There are also many opportunities to network and build contacts while studying in this thriving country. The education system focuses heavily on the economic, tech and media industry and thus students are encouraged to take part in conferences and national exhibitions to showcase their skills to the public and find employment opportunities.
Studying Arabic in Qatar
What better way to immerse yourself in a new culture than to learn the regional language? As well as English, Arabic is the most spoken language in Qatar and its neighbouring countries. Learning to speak the national language has many benefits including improving career prospects and helping you integrate better within the community.
There are many opportunities in Qatar and Doha to study Arabic for all ages and capabilities.
For a truly comprehensive guide to learning Arabic, enrol into Educate Learning Centre’s Arabic Language programme which is designed for non-Arabic speakers living in Qatar.
The programme aims to help students merge into the Qatari culture by building a solid foundation in the Arabic language and develop a conversational base for communication with Arabic speakers.
There are two levels depending on your skillset. The Foundational level teaches students how to form basic sentences in order to help them ask for directions, introduce themselves and give instructions/ask questions. The Conversational level builds on these basic skills by teaching you how to form more complex sentences and have conversations in Arabic.
And, unlike some language classes this is fully interactive and integrates learning with role-play, audio and video resources.
For a more personal experience try Arabic with Reem, who offers interactive online Arabic classes for students. Before teaching online, Reem taught Arabic in the UK. She now teaches live online classrooms and offers private tuition of Modern Standard Arabic, which is the universal standard today.
Sources: All of this information was gathered form the universities main websites and latest annual reports.
Photos: 1 – Getty images/Utkan Göksu, 2 – Getty images/Travel Photography, 3 – Getty images/ben-bryant, 4,5 – Qatar Foundation/Facebook