ABU DHABI - Under the directives of H.H. Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed, Deputy National Security Adviser, Member of Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) has launched the Khotwa (RizeUp) scholarship programme to further enhance access to education opportunities and open new knowledge horizons for high school graduates.

The AED 1.9 billion programme aims to enhance academic capabilities while providing students from a variety of academic and social backgrounds who have not previously received scholarships with future-ready skills and broad educational experiences to enable them to achieve their full potential and contribute to the growth of Abu Dhabi’s knowledge-based economy.

The fully-funded scholarship programme will create opportunities for students to study for two years at community colleges in the United States and Canada, before transferring their credit to any international or local university to complete their bachelor’s degrees, when necessary requirements are met.

Commenting on the launch, Sara Musallam, Minister of State for Early Education, and Chairperson of ADEK, said, "This landmark programme is a strategic investment by Abu Dhabi Government to continue nurturing future-ready Emirati bachelor’s degree holders. Khotwa (RizeUp) will empower students who have not benefitted from our previous scholarships to study at international colleges and universities and graduate as highly competent, effective and productive citizens capable to enrich our national employment pool and play an active role in driving forward our knowledge-based economy."

"Building on the success of employment rates exceeding 90 percent among ADEK’s scholarship graduates, we recognise the potential in providing opportunities. Consequently, we have expanded the scholarship matrix to include specific academic specialisations - selected in close cooperation with government, national, and private entities - that will further enhance our graduate scholars’ employability in the short, medium and long-term," she added.

ADEK aims to enroll 100 in the first cohort this year, with numbers set to increase annually to reach a total of 6,000 scholarship beneficiaries by 2028.

Students at public, private and charter schools across Abu Dhabi with a minimum GPA of 65 percent in their grade 12 finals are eligible to apply for the Khotwa (RizeUp) programme, providing they scored a minimum of 3.0 in IELTS tests. The same criteria apply for National Service Graduates who do not hold a bachelor’s degree. Priority will be given to candidates whose families are receiving social support.

This more accessible admission criteria enable a greater number of Emirati students who did not previously receive scholarships to study abroad in areas that fulfil their passion and also address the demands of the nation’s high-priority sectors.

For those who do not yet have the English proficiency levels to pursue post-high school studies at North American community colleges, the programme will also cover the costs of one additional year of English language studies for candidates, to be undertaken in the host country.

Candidates joining Khotwa (RizeUp) must commit to a homestay programme during the two-year community college period, where students will reside with local families carefully selected by ADEK and reputable homestay organisations across North America.

The launch of the Khotwa (RizeUp) programme follows ADEK’s comprehensive analysis of its scholarship offerings to identify key challenges facing Emirati students wanting to study abroad. The data-driven analysis has resulted in several major enhancements to existing scholarship programmes, including the introduction of new specialties to improve graduates’ employability, address priority industry needs, and supplement the current and future needs of the UAE economy.

Shortlisted candidates must attend a mandatory five-day bootcamp at ADEK headquarters in October to assess their readiness for overseas study and homestay programmes.

Successful applicants are set to leave the UAE for their assigned community college and homestay programme in January 2023.

In addition to covering tuition fees and living costs throughout their homestay programme at community college, as well as their bachelor’s degree, Khotwa (RizeUp) enrollees will also receive living allowances and continuous one-on-one advisory support from ADEK’s academic counsellors throughout the programme.