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High demand for media-related majors in UAE

Cultural aspects and family pressures play a big role in what students opt to study

Gulf News

Media-related majors are the new ‘it’ majors according to specialists in the UAE’s higher education field.

At the end of every academic year, students start looking for universities and majors that determine their career path. In order to learn more about this year’s trends, Gulf News spoke to higher education specialists and students.

The American University of Sharjah (AUS) is home to 5,758 students and current majors such as engineering (2,544 students) and business (1,464 students) have proved to be in the highest demand.

“Majors with the highest demand include mechanical engineering and civil engineering. The business and management school also has high demand with a focus on accounting and finance,” said Ali Shuhaimy, Vice-Chancellor for Enrolment Management at AUS.

The reason for high demand in these majors, says Shuhaimy, can be attributed to cultural and family pressures. “Since the majority of the UAE population are expatriates, they tend to focus on majoring in areas that have potential job opportunities in the region and in order to be part of it, they major in professional areas such as engineering and finance. Cultural aspects and family pressures also play a big role; some majors such as engineering and medicine are thought to be more prestigious than others.”

As for new trends, Shuhaimy said that there was an increase in demand in mass communication (766 students) which has three concentrations, journalism, advertising and public relations. More than 90 per cent of students studying this major are women. The Canadian University of Dubai’s Marketing and Communication Manager, Spencer Semple, also said there was great demand for media-related majors. “We are seeing a great demand for our Bachelor of Arts in Communication, both the Arabic and English concentrations. I think this is indicative of the demand for professionals in this field. There is also great demand in our five-year architecture programme,” said Semple.

At the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), engineering has the highest demand among students. As for new trends, Yousuf Al Assaf, President of the RIT, told Gulf News that there is increasing demand to major in information security.

“We do not offer media-related majors in our university. Hhowever, we do offer information security which is gaining popularity due to frequent and recent attacks by hackers. High demand will result from this increase in hacking and students are aware of that. The classical IT is no longer sufficient with developments such as cloud computing,” said Al Assaf.

When it comes to universities in Dubai, a report published by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) titled ‘The higher education landscape in Dubai’ shows that there is a 11 per cent increase in higher education students in Dubai (48,058 students).

The report also found that business studies has the highest student enrolment as more than half the students (58 per cent or 5,274) were in a range of business programmes. The number of students in engineering (11 per cent or 1,013) showed a significant increase over previous years.

Saeed Hussain, a stduent, says, “As I child, I was always pressured to get good grades by my parents in order to become a doctor.” He is thankful he he did not secure grades good enough to study medicine! “I always wanted to study international relations which is what I plan on applying for,” says Hussain, a Jordanian national.

Another student, Ali Sumar, a Pakistani, says he was planning on becoming an engineer in order to join his father’s business. “Families definitely played a big role in determining my career path. In my case, it was a positive influence. But I do know that sometimes it can be a burden on students who are studying something for four years they are not interested in because they are pressured by their family.”


Fact Box

American University of Sharjah

5,758 students

Total student strength


2,544 students


1,464 students

Top study areas

Business studies

Mass Communications & Media related majors.



Students in higher education in Dubai


enrolled in Engineering