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Dr Eesa Mohammed Bastaki, President of the University of Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

• Dr Eesa Mohammed Bastaki, President of the University of Dubai.

UD is the first private university in Dubai to hold the AACSB accreditation and the first in the UAE to hold the ABET-CAC accreditation. In what ways do students benefit from these?

First of all, let me add to the international accreditations by AACSB and ABET you mentioned. The University of Dubai is also accredited federally by the Commission for Academic Accreditation from the Ministry of Education. These local and international accreditations are very important for students for the reason of acquiring degrees from a quality education provider on par with international standards which increases the student’s trust in obtaining the degree from the University. It is very important to understand that quality always prevails... Once students understand this concept they will realise that their degrees will be recognised locally and internationally. This will help them get jobs easily in renowned companies and organizations.

How do you align your curriculum to the Islamic Economy, Smart City, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship initiatives of the government?

The University of Dubai recogniSes the importance of new and recent trends in the economies and technologies of the world. Thus, actions are required to meet these job trends to help the students benefit from these changes. For example, once the trend of the Islamic Economy started to take shape UD added contents in some of the courses, not to exceed 20 per cent for each course, in order to add knowledge to the students in this field and keep them abreast towards the changes in job descriptions. Once Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced his 50th charter, UD started implementing the 6th clause of the charter and that was to implement innovation and entrepreneurship economic free zones in all universities to graduate startups. UD established the free zone and started working on producing products to be made in UAE. The second example is the smart cities initiative to create intelligent smart cities. UD was already in the race to instill smart cities curriculum to be embedded in some courses by 20 per cent.

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Professor Thomas Glas-Hochstettler, Provost, Abu Dhabi University Image Credit: Supplied

• Prof. Thomas Glas-Hochstettler, Provost, Abu Dhabi University

ADU recently announced its refreshed innovation strategy that is aimed at powering a more sustainable world. What are the major initiatives under this strategy and how will those make a difference in preparing students for their future careers?

ADU’s recently revamped global innovation strategy focuses on providing every single student with the skills, knowledge, and proclivity to use evolving technologies and digital toolkits to create state-of-the-art solutions for business, manufacturing, and service enterprises across the economic spectrum. We are actively engaged in ensuring, for example, that every undergraduate at ADU, regardless of their major, has full grounding in the principles and applications of Artificial Intelligence, so that our graduates can be counted on to use AI in resolving problems large and small that they confront in everyday life in the workplace.

Are you introducing any new programmes or streams for the September 2022 intake?

Each year we update our degree programs by adding highly relevant, innovative degrees at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Just this month, we have added the following, leading-edge undergraduate Concentrations to our Engineering offerings: Game Development; Big Data Analytics; Web and Mobile Development; and Cybersecurity. In mounting these and many other innovative degrees, we at ADU stand proudly at the forefront of those institutions that strive to provide relevant, high-value education for the nation’s youth. We are steadfast in our commitment to doing our part in building an ever-brighter future for ourselves and our children.

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Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Middlesex University and Director, Middlesex University Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

• Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Middlesex University and Director, Middlesex University Dubai

As an institution with a 5-Star rating from KHDA, what are the factors that distinguish Middlesex University from its peers?

The outstanding student experience at Middlesex University Dubai is what distinguishes it from other universities in the region. Middlesex offers a world-class UK degree, delivered on campus at the largest UK university in Dubai, by our outstanding international faculty. Further to this, we are a truly international university, giving our students the opportunity to interact with over 118 nationalities within the current student community and over 7000+ Alumni . Another distinguishing factor is our focus is on making our students 100 per cent employable. This is achieved with the help of our Careers and Employability department that connects with over 700 employers, building lasting partnerships as well as ensuring our students are able to acquire professional certifications, delivering soft skills training such as interview coaching and CV writing, and securing volunteering and internship opportunities both internally and externally. Finally, our Centers of Excellence bring in the industry and subject specific experts to interact with students, exposing them to a fantastic network of industry leaders.

How do you make sure that your students are equipped with the skills needed to succeed in today’s dynamic global job market?

First and foremost, our faculty are true leaders in their field, contributing innovative, forward-thinking research to their industries and subsequently bringing their insights firsthand into the classroom which benefits our students tenfold. The applied learning experience is delivered via participating in academic competitions, international field trips such as our successful MBA trip to Milan to study the luxury goods industry, attending workshops, internship opportunities, and being invited to work on live assignment projects with reputable companies. Together these initiatives provide students with a real world experience that enhances their employability skills. Our students also have the opportunity to gain professional certifications from our accreditation partners such as CIM, CIMA, ACCA, DELL, EPSON, CISCO and many more, all whilst they are studying for their degree, further boosting their employability options with industry specific recognised additions to their overall degree. Our Teaching and Learning practices are ready for application in the real world, empowering each student to be ready for any challenges they may face in the future.

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Dr Saif Al Seiari, Vice Chancellor, Amity University Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

• Dr Saif Al Seiari, Vice Chancellor, Amity University Dubai

Amity University Dubai’s Incubation Centre is a certified Incubator under Dubai SME. How effective has this initiative, been in helping kick-start your students’ entrepreneurial journey?

Our Incubation Centre has maintained crucial strategic partnerships with public and private companies, and built a community of mentors, entrepreneurs, volunteers, alumni and students, who are currently working with and supporting over 18 student start-ups. This initiative has created opportunities for students from all disciplines, encouraging them to think innovatively and develop an entrepreneurial spirit, both of which are key to succeeding in a growing economy. Co-founders of incubator program start-up, arcab, were recently listed in Forbes Middle Easts’ ’30 under 30’. Vegan sneaker brand Thaely, created by Amity alum, Ashay, launched last year and has since displayed products at Level Shoes in Dubai Mall, they have also become part of the uniform in a Dubai-based school.

In an ever-changing scenario that demands novel approaches to higher education, what steps have you taken to incorporate innovations in teaching and learning?

We believe in creating a diverse, interactive and inspiring environment, where students have the freedom to be thinkers, dreamers and creators. Practical experiences, understanding workplaces, interacting with industry professionals and a modern learning pedagogy, are some of the many ways in which we ensure that students are ready to become UAE’s future leaders.

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Dr Jason Fitzsimmons, Academic President, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Dubai Campus Image Credit: Supplied

• Dr Jason Fitzsimmons, Academic President, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Dubai Campus

You have been recognised as one of Dubai’s best international university campuses by KHDA with a 5-Star rating. What according to you are the factors that sets MAHE Dubai apart from other universities?

Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Dubai is one of the leading multidisciplinary universities in the region. We are the only university to have scored 5 stars in all the 8 parameters of the KHDA Ranking 2022; a testament to the quality of education and services provided by MAHE Dubai to our current students and our prospective cohort of students who we would be welcoming in September 2022. Our 50+ top-rated and industry-oriented programmes across 7 disciplines at MAHE Dubai, along with a dedicated academic team with extensive teaching and research experience, guarantees unparalleled teaching quality in the region and reflects our approach to ensure our students’ career success. MAHE Dubai believes in an overall development of its students. Apart from academics, we share the same dedication into organising extracurricular actives for our students with an emphasis on allowing them to gain leadership skills and help our students transition smoother from campus to work mode.

How are you helping students build in-demand skills for the jobs of the future? Do you provide proactive support to your students for their placement after course completion?

MAHE Dubai programmes are designed in way that not only incorporates theoretical, research-based knowledge but also hands-on experiences on industry projects, under the guidance of faculties and experts who are also leaders in their field within the specific industry. This ensures that our students achieve an all-round education, with industry-experience ready to apply once they join a career field of their choice. MAHE Dubai has a dedicated Career Services department that aims at providing 100 per cent assistance in job placement as well as internship opportunities to all students and graduates. Our strong network of 6500+ alumni, who work in some of the leading MNCs across the world, have always connected back with their alma mater as mentors, assisting fellow and future graduates in growing and excelling within their career.

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Hanil Das, Co-Founder & CEO, Westford University College Image Credit: Supplied

• Hanil Das, Co-Founder & CEO, Westford University College

Apart from the wide array of traditional business management courses being offered currently, does Westford have plans to introduce new streams to match fast-evolving industry demands and enhance future employability?

While traditional business management courses will always remain the forte of Westford University College, the institution, since its establishment, has been focused on offering job-oriented programmes that cater to the needs of the next-generation of workforce. Westford is constantly expanding its academic portfolio by onboarding a variety of bachelor’s and master’s programmes. BA (Hons) in Media, Culture and Communications, BSc (Hons) in Computer Science, BA in Business Analytics as well as postgraduate programmes such as MBA with Applied Entrepreneurship, Design Thinking, and Innovation and MBA in Global Business Administration with Marketing Intelligence and Big Data are a few of many courses that Westford has to offer.

You have a mentorship programme that aims to address the industry academia gap and create corporate ready graduates. How effective has this programme been?

The Westford Mentorship Programme is a reciprocal learning opportunity between two of our biggest resources; the MBA alumni in leadership roles as the Mentors and our day scholars who are pursuing their bachelor’s degree as the mentees. This programme has allowed mentees to be coached by the mentors, who share their professional experiences, knowledge, and skills with the mentees to help them achieve their career ambitions. Even at its initial stages, the programme has proven to be a success and beneficial in exposing our students to the current market trends and guide them to prepare for a future in the corporate world.

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Dr. Karim Seghir, Chancellor of Ajman University Image Credit: Supplied

• Dr Karim Seghir, Chancellor of Ajman University

In what ways have you adapted your course content to prepare learners for the post-Covid workforce demands?

The curriculum and course content at Ajman University is constantly updated to reflect the most recent knowledge, insights and research in any academic field. Beyond just course content, it is our diverse, world-class faculty coming from over 30 different countries who add immense value by sharing industry-relevant insights, best practices and trends that are impacting the society in the region as well as globally. They are the ones who truly help our students make sense of the global mega, macro and micro trends, enabling them to evolve into thought leaders in their own right. Each of our faculty is a prolific researcher and scholar in their academic area and the knowledge and insights they bring in addition to the course content, is what really makes Ajman University a truly outstanding and innovative higher education institution.

Are you introducing any new programs for the September 2022 intake?

We are constantly updating the content and the delivery modes of teaching, including strong engagement with the Industry. We are also considering introducing a multitude of new programs across our Colleges such as Taxation, Nursing, Wealth Management, Emergency Health Services, Nutrition, Cosmetics Science, Social Media content management, etc.

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Dr Susan Mumm, Chancellor of American University of Sharjah Image Credit: Supplied

• Dr Susan Mumm, Chancellor of American University of Sharjah

AUS has historically had an impressive employability rate of 88 per cent for its students. Has this changed in the post-Covid scenario? Do you see this rate going further up in the coming academic years?

AUS continues to produce graduates who are highly sought-after by employers. According to QS World University Subject Rankings 2022, AUS graduates are the top choice of UAE employers in the areas of architecture and design, business and engineering.

Graduates of the College of Engineering have been recruited by some of the largest global organizations, while many have assumed ministerial and high-level government positions in the UAE or established themselves as successful entrepreneurs. The world’s major business players, including Emirates Group, Etihad Airlines, Google, Unilever, Boston Consulting Group and PwC, continue to attract AUS alumni from the School of Business Administration. Many alumni from the College of Architecture, Art and Design are behind some of the most impressive architectural and interior design projects in the region, including The Museum of the Future and The Dubai Twisted Bridge. Graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences are working on the frontiers of space and driving the UAE’s sustainability endeavors, as well as excelling in the performing arts and media.

Are there any unique factors that set the undergraduate, master's and doctorate programs offered by AUS apart from those offered by other universities?

AUS programmes are taught by over 360 distinguished full-time faculty who are leaders in their fields. AUS students have the opportunity to work with these faculty on important research that will have significant impact. Equipping students with real-world experience is an important aspect of AUS programs, with students empowered to understand the key issues impacting the sector or industry in which they will work. This is achieved by having industry leaders appear as guest lecturers, hosting workshops for students on industry needs, and importantly, giving many students the opportunity to undertake internships throughout their studies. Often, such internships lead to students being offered permanent positions following graduation. Central to the university’s liberal arts core curriculum is equipping students with skills that will help them achieve in future roles, regardless of their career path. These essential skills– such as collaboration, leadership and strategic thinking–are core components of our academic programmes and our wide variety of extracurricular opportunities.

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Dr David A. Schmidt, President of the American University in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

• Dr David A. Schmidt, President of the American University in Dubai

Your stated vision places liberal arts as the wider context for life-long learning and professional readiness. Could you explain this in the backdrop of today’s fast-evolving, technology-driven world?

Critical thinking, communication, creative problem solving, innovative research, and lifelong learning— these are the skills a liberal arts degree emphasises and what global employers are looking. These skills, complemented with the technical hard-skills gained in our programmes, for example, architecture, biology, or engineering, creates graduates who can approach problems in entirely new ways and contribute to out-of-the-box thinking required in a digital age.

What impact has the last couple of years of disruption had on the delivery of your academic programmes and services?

AUD’s motto during the Pandemic was the “Learning Never Stops” and our immediate and seamless transition to distance learning protocols in March 2020 while maintaining our academic standards is indicative of the university’s preparedness for the future. The implementation and utilization of AI, VR and hybrid teaching models ensures that our graduates will serve as the visionary leaders moving forward.

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Dr Srinivasan Madapusi, Director, BITS Pilani, Dubai Campus Image Credit: Supplied

• Dr Srinivasan Madapusi, Director, BITS Pilani, Dubai Campus

In a world that has been transforming at an incredible pace, do you see some of the traditional streams of engineering becoming obsolete in the near future?

Probably transformed / re-configured / merged would be more relevant terms than obsolete. The boundaries between traditional disciplines will be blurred. The current engineering streams will be still in vogue (we will always need nutritious food, clean water and environment, good healthcare and standard of living, etc.) but they will be vastly enhanced and supported by new tools and facilitators that eliminate drudgery, reduce uncertainty, and enable products and services with superior performance to be offered through sustainable methodologies at lower cost.

What according to you are careers that will be most in demand 10 years from now, and how do you plan to equip your students for those jobs?

Generally speaking, careers that require depth of knowledge in a particular domain in combination with translational expertise to other domains will be in demand. For instance, a mechanical or electrical engineer will need to understand the nuances of the human body to design gadgets for robotic surgery. In preparation for these future scenarios, at BITS-Pilani, Dubai, we equip our students with state-of-the-art tools that enable them to expand their horizons and formulate innovative solutions. Our programmes offer both depth and breadth that provide our students an excellent platform for applying their technical skills in their chosen domain across multiple disciplines. Irrespective of their major, the students can pick up specific skills through the minor programmes that include data science, robotics and automation, finance, and so on.

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Prof. Ammar Kaka, Provost & Vice Principal, Heriot-Watt University Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

• Ammar Kaka, Provost & Vice Principal, Heriot-Watt University Dubai

Your university marked its 200th anniversary recently. While rooted in this heritage and legacy, how do you make sure your students get future-proof education and skills from your courses and programmes?

We offer an extensive range of research-informed degree programmes in a global study environment and ensure our students receive future-proof education and skills through several ways. We offer programmes in line with employment requirements of today, such as Robotics, Sustainable Engineering, Artificial Intelligence and more. These are complemented by world-class facilities such as a fully equipped Robotics Lab, Design Studio, Psychology Lab and more. Internships, hands-on projects and industry collaborations are embedded in course curriculum, which help students pick up real-life skills even before they enter the workplace. And finally, we offer opportunities for cross campus transfers which permit students to absorb a global outlook, expand their horizons and enhance future career prospects.

Why would a student choose your Dubai campus over other institutions for the September 2022 intake?

As the first British university to set up a campus in Dubai, Heriot-Watt University has an established reputation for world-class teaching, practical, leading-edge research, and strong links to business and industry. Our facilities and educational outcomes have resulted in us receiving a five star accreditation from the KHDA for three years in a row. We offer several other clubs and activities for talented students, as well as oversee their mental wellbeing. These are just a few reasons why students choose our campus to help achieve their personal ambitions and goals.

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John Evans, Pro Vice Chancellor – Curtin Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

• John Evans, Pro Vice Chancellor – Curtin Dubai

Curtin is ranked among the top 1 per cent of universities worldwide in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2021. What does this rating mean for students of your Dubai campus?

The ARWU ranks institutions based on the quality of the teaching and research and Curtin’s campuses have the same quality of faculty, teaching, and research. The top 1 per cent ranking indicates that Curtin is among the best and most recognized universities in the world. Recently, a group of Curtin Dubai Engineering students have been selected as the only team from the UAE to send Lunasats to the moon in 2023 as part of the GLEE mission which demonstrates the quality of the Curtin Dubai Campus.

You have established a Careers Hub on campus. How effective has this initiative been in equipping your students with future skills and real-world experiences?

The Careers Hub offers students an employability training program, internships, and assistance with fulltime placement upon graduation. Students also have access to the Careers Hubs of all the other Curtin campuses for international opportunities. This initiative has resulted in all students who desired an internship getting one and 97 per cent of our graduates to date finding work in their field or continuing to a master’s degree within one year of graduation, despite the pandemic.

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Prof. Hossam Hamdy, Chancellor, Gulf Medical University Image Credit: Supplied

• Prof. Hossam Hamdy, Chancellor, Gulf Medical University

Yours is the largest network of private academic hospitals in the Middle East. In what ways has the Covid-19 pandemic altered the way medical education is delivered?

A new, open strategy of the GMU considers the importance of innovation in the teaching activities at the university. Advances in technology, knowledge and research are playing an increasingly important role in healthcare. Therefore, moving from an informative and formative medical education culture of acquiring knowledge, skills to transformative learning – the institute has expedited innovation to set up the Thumbay Research Institute for Precision Medicine, Thumbay institute for population health and Thumbay Institute of health workforce development-which are the hubs for research, post-graduate studies, and continuous professional development.

What benefits do medical students and graduates from your institutions get from your wide network of hospitals? Do they get priority placement in those hospitals after graduation?

Over the last 24 years, Gulf Medical University (GMU) has worked tirelessly to provide new chances for its students to attain their goals and better serve the community in developing, running, and using the products of health professions education that are flexible and adaptive to the changing societal needs. Students in various programs are introduced to Early patient exposure to improve and enhance their clinical skills. Students of GMU gets chance to learn while working in the network of Thumbay hospitals and priority is given to GMU graduates after graduation based on the career opportunities available at that time.

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Simon Bradbury, Pro Vice-Chancellor International and Dean of Arts, Design and Humanities, De Montfort University Image Credit: Supplied

• Simon Bradbury, Pro Vice-Chancellor International and Dean of Arts, Design and Humanities, De Montfort University

You are the only UK university to be designated by the United Nations as a Global Hub for Sustainable Development Goals. What effect does this have on your students?

Sustainability is a priority for the University, and we have several ways in which students will see this impact. Firstly, we have embedded sustainability into our all areas of our curriculum ensuring that whatever subject they study they will cover the relevant information in relation to particular chosen disciplines and professions. In addition, we have a number of extra-curricular activities students can engage in. In Dubai for example our Sustainability Society is very active and delivering projects on campus and in partnership with students in the UK. There are also some wider opportunities that have emerged for students, for example during the EXPO in Dubai our students presented work on Sustainability at the UK pavilion and recently we took a group of students to the United Nations in New York.

How do you make sure that students graduating from your university are ready and equipped to take on today’s ever-evolving job market?

Firstly, we recognise that world of work is constantly evolving and so in addition to ensuring that students have an understanding of the current knowledge and skills in relation to their discipline area we need to prepare students to have the skills to be flexible and lifelong learners. To enable this, we have just introduced a new curriculum structure to the University which will deliver modules in blocks of 30 credits delivered over a 7-week period. These intense and short bursts of learning enable students to increase the opportunities available to them to develop wider skills including entrepreneurial, wellbeing and life skills. In addition, the breaks between blocks support extracurricular and other activities that facilitate these soft skills which are so important for their future employment.

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Jan Horn, Managing Director of SAE Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

• Jan Horn, Managing Director of SAE Dubai

From AR, VR and Animation, to Design, Film and Games, most of the programs you offer lead to careers that see the most disruptive changes. How do you make sure your students are equipped to face job market challenges?

SAE constantly reviews its programmes and content to ensure it is relevant and in line with the latest developments in the industry. Our practical, hands-on teaching approach focuses on ensuring that students can solve real problems in an industry simulated environment. Our proven combination of programme design, highly-qualified industry specialist faculty and hands on, practical project-based teaching methodology ensures our students are ready for whatever the job market throws at them.

What advantages do your students have over those from other institutions in establishing a career in the creative industries?

SAE students do not have lectures in the traditional sense. Our learning environment is a simulated industry environment. By the time they graduate, they are ready for the workplace and ready to be productive problem solvers from Day 1. All of our students are placed in internships before they graduate and our industry led advisory council is a unique concept in Higher Education in the region. Our advisory council recently participated in the first Speed Creative Portfolio Showcase where students were able to get direct feedback on their projects from industry specialists. We have the most extensive network of industry contacts and collaborations in the region.

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Meghavi Banerjee, Director – Strategic Alliances, Lincoln University of Business and Management Image Credit: Supplied

• Meghavi Banerjee, Director – Strategic Alliances, Lincoln University of Business and Management

You offer MBA programs on the same management streams under York St John University and Geneva Business School. What are the factors that distinguish between these two? How can a prospective student choose between these two?

York St John is recognized by the Privy Council, UK Government and is listed under WES (World Education Services, Canada). It is ranked among the top 40 institutions in UK as per the National Student Survey (NSS) of July 2021. York St John is also accredited by CMI (Chartered Management Institute) and by TEF (Teaching Education Framework) with a bronze rating. It’s more rigorous in terms of the quality of education offered and is intake based with slightly higher fees as compared to Geneva Business School.

Geneva Business School on the other hand holds a ranking of 55 as per the CEO World Magazine out of all the business schools in the world. It’s highly flexible program with 18 detailed modules on business giving our learners an overall of understanding of all aspects of a business organization. Geneva Business School has frequent rotational intakes as compared to York St John, making it easier and faster for learners to enroll. The main factor that distinguishes the two are that one is a private business school from Switzerland and the other a public university from UK.

Do your students have any advantage over others in terms of placement or future employability?

The advantage that LUBM learners have is that there is strong application-based approach. The case studies and theories taught are reflected in real work-based scenarios locally and globally. Besides this, the learners engage with faculty members who are academicians and full-time working professionals who are constantly engaged with corporates through training, research and consultation, resulting in bringing out the real aspect and practicality of business in class.

The alumni formed for the Middle East chapter is an active community that shares job opportunities among their peers. These opportunities are shared across the alumni community of LUBM. Upon request, learners are supported with CV review and mock interview preparation and industry related guidance.

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Dr Richa Arora, Head of institution & COO, University of Sterling Image Credit: Supplied

• Dr Richa Arora, Head of institution & COO, University of Sterling

You have received a rating of 5 Stars in the QS World University Rankings 2022. What are the factors that led to this rating?

The major factors contributed to receiving 5-star QS rankings are our exceptional performance in Teaching, Employability, Internationalisation, and Academic Development.

We are proud to mention that we make our students industry ready with almost 100 per cent employment rates after graduation and they are hired by the world most reputed organisations. We possess a highly qualified faculty with staff, offering curriculums that leave students ready for work in many industries and because of this reason, employers generally recruit our students directly after they’ve graduated.

Other than traditional streams, do you have plans to offer new programmes aimed at preparing students to take on a digitally transforming job market?

In an era marked by rapid advances in automation and artificial intelligence, Employers now want universities to move beyond simple bachelor’s degrees that often focus more on theory than practice as their primary product. More agile, lower-priced, digital credentialed “packages of learning” are valued by employers. ‘Upskilling’ is not a business buzzword, it is vital to keep pace with technological advances and introducing assessments that mirror this demand is essential and considering the above scenario and rapidly changing job market, we offer courses which are not generic and focuses on enhancing the futuristic employability quotients of the students both at graduate and postgraduate levels like Accounting & Finance with ACCA/CMA , Computing Science and Software Engineering in the UG domain alone with PG courses in Big Data , FinTech(Financial Technology) & Finance.