When you walk across the American University in Dubai’s parking lot, you are bound to notice rows of expensive, shiny cars. Automatically, you think that many students must come from rich families.
The reality is however quite different. A high percentage of students are enrolled at AUD with some sort of scholarship. These students don’t come from privileged backgrounds and for them, even commuting to the university adds to the list of expenses they can hardly afford. They can’t afford to own a car and it is way too expensive to hire a taxi every day. Unfortunately, AUD doesn’t provide transportation for its students or even weekly shuttle buses that could help students get home to the other emirates on the weekend.
Other universities across the country provide transportation via buses for students to commute to and from campus every day.
Islam Darwish, Student Activities Coordinator at AUD, said the university doesn’t offer shuttle busses due to its central location in Dubai. “[Students who don’t drive] use the very well-integrated metro system that has a station right outside our gates,” he said in an interview by email.
It is true that the metro station is conveniently just outside AUD’s main gate, but it does not reach many areas in Dubai. For example, I live in the Dubai Land area, and there, we don’t have any metro stations nearby. Commuting to university isn’t just expensive for students, it is also time-consuming when using public transportation. A ride that normally takes 20 minutes can last more than an hour because of the many bus stops.
It is not only students in Dubai who struggle with this, but also those who reside in other emirates such as Sharjah. For them, it is a daily struggle. They either have to use taxis — which is very expensive from there — or a combination of taxis, busses and the metro, or they need to resort to carpools or have personal drivers. None of these solutions are convenient for everyday travel since they’re either expensive or time-consuming.
Farah Mohamed, an 18-year-old student at AUD, complained about how transportation to university is difficult for her. “I think it’s really disappointing that the university doesn’t provide transport. I was so sure coming to this university that they would have this option, just like many universities in Sharjah do,” she said.
“It makes sense to use the metro station if you live in Business Bay, or another place that is near the metro, but not for a person who lives in Sharjah, where accessing a station is a struggle,” said Mohamed. Her father ended up buying a car and hiring a personal driver in order for her to commute to AUD. “Paying for a bus, if AUD had one, wouldn’t be as expensive as paying my driver’s salary every month,” she said.
At AUD we also have students residing at the dorms who hail from other emirates. AUD could, for example, offer them shuttle busses to go visit their families on the weekend in Al Ain, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, etc…
Universities like the American University of Sharjah, Canadian University in Dubai, Middlesex University and others in the country, offer bus transportation for their students, so why can’t AUD do the same? Perhaps AUD should consider helping hundreds of students who are currently struggling to find suitable and affordable means of transportation to attend classes at the university.
Edited by: Mais Othman