The United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) is the oldest, and most prestigious federal university of the UAE, having been founded by His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the father of our nation. UAEU is undergoing a transformation to become a leader in the region and the world in terms of research. The emphasis on research, and the resources allocated to research will increase with this vision.
As the oldest, most prestigious, federal university, UAEU serves the National Interest throughout all emirates. As the world economy moves to an ever-increasing emphasis on knowledge, our mission is to provide the UAE with a world-class knowledge engine that is embedded in, and sensitive to, the unique cultural environment of the UAE. Our duty is to create knowledge by research and creative activity, and to instill this knowledge in our students.
Research will become an increasing part of our overall mission; this increase will compliment our educational mission and will benefit our students. We do not believe that a research mission is set in contrast with a teaching mission; instead we embrace a student-centered research mission that exploits the synergies inherent in a knowledge engine. As information (both reliable and unreliable) is freely available everywhere, a key part of education is to equip students with the ability to judge and use the information that is readily available to them. A important method of educating students in this way is by involving them in research and creative activity. Furthermore, student success depends on their retention an graduation; involvement of undergraduate students has been shown to markedly increase their sense of belonging at the university, and thus increases their retention and graduation rates. At the same time, student involvement in research provides fresh perspectives to that research and increases the productivity of faculty researchers.
Research cannot occur in disciplinary silos; the key research questions being asked, and the critical problems facing the country and the world require collaboration across multiple disciplines. While colleges and departments may be a useful structure to administer much of the teaching mission of the university, they may not be the best entities to administer research. To foster interdisciplinary research we favor research centers, and research groups and teams. Research Centers are relatively enduring structures to provide an intellectual “home” for researchers that is not confined to a single college or department. The Directors of these Research Centers have a role to serve the researchers, provide human and physical infrastructure, and build the intellectual community of the center. On the other hand, we encourage the creation of relatively fluid research groups and interdisciplinary teams that may arise in response to a particular research question. These groupings may evolve into more enduring research centers, or may disperse as the research questions change.
Not even the top universities in the world can be international leaders in every area of research. Each university has to excel in some number of areas of study. To do this we will build on the areas in which we are strong, especially those that directly support the national agenda of the UAE. We will hire faculty at every stage in their career, from entry level faculty to world leaders in research. Building our capacity in terms of highly visible research “superstars” will help attract doctoral students and undergraduates to our university. Such leaders will also act as the nexus of interdisciplinary teams of researchers.
A key priority of our research strategy is to build a pipeline of talent in the UAE in order to build the capacity of Emiratis to be leaders in research within the country and the world. We will certainly be keen to attract talent from anywhere in the world, but we attach particular importance to encouraging and mentoring Emiratis to graduate with Ph.D.s, to be trained and mentored by the best in the world, and to be grown into positions of research leadership. Such a strategy will ensure that the research stature of UAEU is sustainable, and that the UAE can assume a preeminent position in world research.
The UAE needs and deserves a world-class research-intensive university; for us to fulfil this role, we must balance our portfolio of research between research aimed at understanding fundamental principles, with research aimed at solving the problems of our society. While the value of applied research is most easy to articulate to government and the people, it cannot be overemphasized how important fundamental research is to underpinning the stature of the university. All the great universities of the world maintain a large and strong critical mass of basic research, and, indeed, it can easily be argued that their prominence in the world has come primarily from this work on fundamental principles. We do not criticize or decry research institutes, that must focus on applied research, as these play an important role in solving the problems of a country and a region. However, a true world-class university – that UAE needs and deserves – entails that we balance immediate gain with basic knowledge.
As we become a research-intensive university, we will necessarily act as an anchor for a knowledge-based economic development ecosystem. Of course, to have the dynamism of, e.g., Silicon Valley, can only be a distant aspiration, many achievable models of successful ecosystems can be found around the world. As we increase the scale of our research mission, we must shoulder the responsibility of being a permeable, responsive driver of knowledge. To ensure that we can do this, we will establish appropriate non-university entities in support of this mission in order to create a seamless ecosystem.
Our research must always follow the highest ethical principles; we are drivers of knowledge, and knowledge is fragile in the face of unethical behavior. We must treat human and animal subjects in our research according to the highest ethical standards. We must treat our data with absolute integrity, and we should always treat our colleagues and competitors alike with respect and integrity. The responsible conduct of research requires that we adhere to the highest standards of scientific methodology.
Our research priority areas follow the strategic priorities of the UAE to address key needs for the country, the region, and the world. UAEU has developed University Research Centers around these key priorities.
The health, and healthcare, of a nation must necessarily be the highest national priority. Moreover, the cluster of industries around health and healthcare can be expected to be a dominant fraction of the economy for the foreseeable future. Thus, for any comprehensive university, this is necessarily the highest of all priorities. The Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Center for Health Sciences has been established at the United Arab Emirates University. This world-class center has become the leading UAE Center providing a combination of research, teaching, professional development, policy analysis and consultancy for health. The Center builds on research at the College of Medicine and Health Science along with all other colleges at UAEU, and concentrates on high quality translational research that addresses national and regional health issues.
The United Arab Emirates has an ambitious space program, having recently placed our first astronaut on the ISS, planning an unmanned Mars Mission in 2020, and ultimately to launch a manned mission to Mars. The National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) has been developed as a partnership between the UAE Space Agency and UAEU. Given the substantial space agenda of the nation, UAEU needs to continue to develop and strengthen its role as a contributor of knowledge and education in the fields of space science and space technology, and to become a significant space science and technology hub in the region. The main focuses of the NSSTC are research and development, higher education and community outreach. The priorities of the center are threefold: excellence in space science, engineering leadership in space technologies, and providing innovative solutions to societal challenges.
Affordable and clean energy has long been recognized as an engine for economic growth as energy utilization increases in tandem with economic development. With ever higher demands for energy, due to sustained population growth and economic development, amidst concerns about global warming, a number of international studies commissioned energy providers have noted that the era of abundant and cheap hydrocarbon supplies has come to an end. The world is now moving towards an era in which fossil fuels may still dominate temporarily but more energy will have to be obtained from other sustainable resources and in an environmentally friendly manner.
The Khalifa Center for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology (KCGEB) was inaugurated in 2014 by His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs. Research at the KCGEB is focused on exploring flora of the arid region to generate scientific knowledge to address the global challenges in the food security and sustainable agriculture practice through genomics, genetic engineering and biotechnological innovations. The work of the Khalifa Center is supported by strategic funding from the Ministry of Presidential Affairs.
For an arid country such as the UAE, the optimal use of water resources must be a high priority. The National Water Center was created to support the research and service mission of the United Arab Emirates University in all areas related to water sciences. It will foster basic and applied research to serve the critical needs of the nation related to water conservation and sustainability.
Roadway, Transportation, and Traffic Safety Research Center (RTTSRC) was established in June 2004 and charged with the responsibility to serve the nation's development goals in the fields of highway engineering, transportation and traffic safety. RTTSRC is a registered consultant with the Department of Planning & Economy, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry for the roadways & transportation projects, also registered as an engineering consultant with the municipalities of Abu Dhabi and Al-Ain.
The UAE Happiness Index is one of the key national performance indictors in UAE Vision 2021 for a cohesive society and a preserved identity. To contribute to the government’s efforts towards realizing UAE Vision 2021, the United Arab Emirates University has established the ECHR to provide appropriate, effective, evidence-based and implementable methods and alternatives to enhance happiness and positivity and resolve the factors affecting them. The center will offer services to agencies and to the UAE community.
The UAEU Center for Public Policy and Leadership aims to offer the best solutions and innovative approaches in dealing with various challenges facing the United Arab Emirates and its society. This center aspires to be a key partner in the fields of public policy, governance, and leadership through research on all aspects of public policy and leadership, and building a database of policy resources for the nation. The center also embraces a key role in outreach, providing training and professional development programs in the field of public policy, and promoting fruitful and cooperative relationships with the community and stakeholders.
As a university, the UAEU aspires to ensure that its teaching is among the best in the world; in order to do so, we promote the study of pedagogy, and the assessment of learning outcomes. Inaugurated on 14th, November, 2016, the Institute was established due to growing efforts towards gaining accreditation and assessment both nationally and internationally. The absence of a collective benchmark and sharing of resources amongst higher education institutions in the region created the need for a body to oversee this. Rethinking the relationship between higher education institutions is essential for the promotion of better learning. Instead of seeing assessment purely in terms of accreditation, the Institute strives to turn existing assessment into an innovative vehicle for the development of better learning.
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