Dubai: To pay tribute to Zainab Hussain, 20, who was one semester away from graduation when she died of a heart disease, Murdoch University is awarding her a degree in finance and management posthumously.

Her parents, Shabbir and Rizwana Hussain, were invited by the varsity last week to receive the degree on her behalf, a TV channel reported.

Pro-vice chancellor of Murdoch University (Dubai campus) Prof John Grainger, who was also one of Zainab's lecturers in her first year, conferred the degree.

"This girl worked so hard and in tribute to her parents and her, we thought we should award the posthumous degree," Prof Grainger said.

"Zainab was one of our very first enrolled students. She was very determined at that stage to succeed," Prof Grainger said.

Grainger described Zainab as a fantastic student who submitted all her work in top notch form. "If I had a hundred students like her I'd pay a million dollars."

When Zainab first joined the university nobody knew she was ill. "She never looked for sympathy and never told us what was wrong."

The university received the sad news of her death in December.

Following discussions with the parent campus in Perth, university officials decided to award the posthumous degree.

Rizwana Hussain said her daughter was very hard-working from a young age.

"She was meticulous in her work and she always got good marks. At university she knew that nobody needed to be behind her," she said.

Hussain said she had wanted to see her graduate but that was not to be.

Zainab suffered from a primary pulmonary hypertension, which affected her heart.

"I knew my daughter was suffering and we were saying the longer she lives, the better," she said.

Close friend Mariam Esmail also said that despite her illness Zainab never wanted it to be an excuse.