KHDA and ACTVET approvals in the UAE

KHDA and ACTVET approvals in the UAE

- Jade Wong

The UAE’s education sector has witnessed significant growth and development over recent years, driven by a rising population, rapid economic development and increasing international recognition. In Dubai alone, there are now over 200 private schools offering a variety of curricula such as British, American, Indian, and International Baccalaureate (IB) and over 300,000 students enrolled in private schools. This reflects the growing demand for quality education and the opportunities for individuals and organisations to set up educational institutes in the UAE.

For those considering starting an educational institution or training establishment in the UAE, including schools, colleges, universities, training centres, and any other entity that offers formal education and training services, it's important to note that regulatory approvals play a pivotal role. In Dubai, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) approval is a prerequisite for educational institutions, while in Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ACTVET) approval holds similar significance, particularly for technical and vocational training programmes. The approval process ensures that these institutions meet specific standards of quality, safety, and educational effectiveness.

What are the KHDA and ACTVET?

The KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority) is a regulatory and quality assurance authority responsible for overseeing the education sector in Dubai. Established in 2007, its primary goal is to ensure the quality of education in private schools and institutions, including includes evaluating and rating schools, promoting educational excellence, and fostering a conducive environment for learning and development in Dubai. It oversees the education sector, ensuring standards of quality, safety, and educational effectiveness in various institutions, from schools to higher education establishments. It also plays a role in shaping educational policies and initiatives to support Dubai's vision of becoming a global hub for education and knowledge.

ACTVET is a comparable organisation in Abu Dhabi, dedicated to enhancing technical and vocational education and training. Founded to align education with industry needs, ACTVET focuses on developing high-quality training programmes, accrediting training centres, and ensuring that vocational education meets industry standards. It plays a vital role in promoting skill development, workforce readiness, and economic growth by fostering a skilled workforce equipped for the demands of the job market.

Both KHDA and ACTVET contribute significantly to the growth and development of education and vocational training in the UAE, with a focus on maintaining high standards of quality, relevance, and innovation.

How does the KHDA assess schools?

The KHDA assesses schools in Dubai through a comprehensive evaluation process aimed at ensuring quality education and continuous improvement. The assessment process includes the following components:

  • School inspections: The KHDA conducts regular on-site inspections of schools. These inspections are comprehensive and cover various aspects of the school's operations, including teaching and learning practices, leadership and management, student well-being, curriculum quality, facilities, and more. Inspectors use a set of predefined indicators and criteria to assess the school's performance in these areas.
  • School self-evaluation: Schools are often required to conduct their own self-evaluations, reflecting on their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. This self-evaluation process allows schools to identify their own challenges and progress, contributing to a more holistic assessment.
  • Student achievement data: The KHDA analyses student achievement data, including academic performance and progress, to assess how effectively the school is promoting learning and educational outcomes.
  • Parent and student feedback: The opinions and feedback of parents and students play a role in the assessment process. The KHDA may gather input from these stakeholders through surveys and other means to gauge satisfaction levels and gather insights into the overall school experience.
  • Leadership and management evaluation: The effectiveness of the school's leadership and management, including governance, strategic planning, and decision-making processes, is assessed to determine how well the school is positioned for improvement and growth.
  • Curriculum and teaching quality: The KHDA evaluates the curriculum offered by the school, ensuring that it aligns with educational standards and promotes effective teaching and learning practices.
  • Student well-being and inclusion: The well-being and inclusivity of students are assessed, encompassing areas such as pastoral care, student support services, and efforts to create a positive and inclusive school environment.
  • Innovation and continuous improvement: The KHDA considers the school's commitment to innovation, professional development of staff, and the measures taken to continuously improve the quality of education.
  • Compliance and legal requirements: The school's compliance with local laws, regulations, and educational standards is evaluated to ensure that it operates within the legal framework.

Based on the assessment findings, the KHDA assigns schools with ratings, such as "Outstanding," "Very Good," "Good," "Acceptable," or "Weak." These ratings reflect the overall quality of the school and provide parents, students, and educational stakeholders with valuable information when making educational choices.

How do you obtain KHDA approval in Dubai?

Approval can be obtained online, directly through the KHDA portal. However, processes and requirements can change over time, so it's important to verify the information with the KHDA and seek professional assistance from a reputable corporate services provider to ensure the most up to date guidance. The following are the steps:

1. Select the type of training institute

    The process required for KHDA approval in the UAE varies depending on the type of educational institution:

    • Early Childhood Centre
    • Private School
    • Higher Education Institution
    • Training Institute

    Each institution will have slightly different requirements. However, the steps are largely the same for each.

    2. KHDA permit registration in Dubai

      You will be required to submit the following documentation via KHDA’s E-services portal:

      • Name Reservation from applicable commercial authority (copy of the license for existing company)
      • Initial approval for Adding Training activity to the existing licence
      • Complete application form
      • Complete registration form
      • Provide passport copies of director and all shareholders
      • Provide notary public signature for manager and all shareholders
      • Submit manager’s CV
      • Provide manager’s qualification certificate, attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)
      • Submit undertaking from the manager that he/she will oversee management of the institute and his/her proposed working hours

      In the event that one of the shareholders is a corporate entity, a board resolution will be required to confirm the establishment of the institute and provide a certificate of good standing.

      3. KHDA approval

        Once the initial registration is completed, you will need to submit a copy of the company trade licence, a tenancy contract for the business premises and an environment health and safety certificate from the Directorate of Civil Defence. Once these elements are all in place, the educational services permit will be issued.

        What is ACTVET’s assessment process?

        ACTVET's accreditation assessment process involves institutes submitting an application and documentation, followed by a comprehensive on-site evaluation. This assessment covers areas such as infrastructure, curriculum, faculty qualifications, teaching methods, student support, and compliance. Feedback and recommendations are provided, leading to a decision on accreditation status. Ongoing monitoring ensures institutes uphold quality standards.

        How do I obtain ACTVET approval in Abu Dhabi?

        The approval process can be completed online via the TAMM website, Abu Dhabi’s digital government service platform. Before proceeding with the application, you should ensure that you meet the following eligibility criteria:

        • Have a valid commercial/free zone licence.
        • The training centre academic director should have a bachelor’s degree and 3 years of experience in the training activity specified on their licence.
        • The applicant should have already secured training facilities that are appropriate for the training purposes. These must not be in a business centre or with other existing businesses.
        • The applicant company needs to Register its Trademark in the UAE.

        The process is as follows:

        1. Trade name approval: Obtain trade name approval from the Department of Economic Development or Licensing Department. This involves choosing a suitable trade name for your vocational training centre and receiving official approval for its use.
        2. Online submission: Submit the required documents through the online licensing system on the ACTVET website. This step involves providing all necessary information and documentation related to your vocational training centre’s setup.
        3. Document evaluation and academic manager assessment: ACTVET Licensing specialists will review and evaluate the submitted documents. They will also assess the documents of the academic manager and an interview may also be conducted.
        4. Site inspection: A site inspection will be conducted to ensure that your vocational training centre meets the established ACTVET Licensing Standards. This step verifies that your facilities, equipment, and resources are suitable for providing high-quality vocational education and training.
        5. Service fee payment: Pay the applicable service fee for obtaining the licence. For a new licence, the fee is AED 5,500. An additional fee of AED 500 may be required for approval of trainers/lecturers associated with the centre.
        6. Obtain approval: Upon successfully completing the above steps and meeting the necessary requirements, you will obtain the required approval or licence from ACTVET. This approval allows you to establish and operate your vocational training centre in Abu Dhabi.

        How can PRO Partner Group help?

        PRO Partner Group has in-depth knowledge of the UAE market and close connections with government departments and freezone authorities. We can assist you with obtaining KHDA approval in Dubai or ACTVET approval in Abu Dhabi. We will help you navigate the application process, preparing documentation, ensuring compliance and providing ongoing support.

        If you need assistance with obtaining KHDA approval in Dubai, obtaining ACTVET approval in Abu Dhabi or any other related onshore or offshore company setup, restructuring, local partner or PRO support matter in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the wider UAE, Oman, Qatar or KSA, then please do get in touch with us on +971 (0)4 456 1761 for Dubai or +971 (0)2 448 5120 for Abu Dhabi, email us at or complete the contact form below and we will be delighted to assist you.

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