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As workplaces become more competitive and many students leave universities with exemplary degrees, it is becoming harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. However, by considering your choice of university wisely, you can have a head start, and it could certainly impact favourably on your future career goals. So, where should you start?

“When choosing a university, what to study should be the first question, which ultimately depends on one’s career aspirations,” says Claire Roper-Browning, Regional Director, Marketing, Recruitment, Admissions and Communications at Heriot-Watt University Dubai.

“Once that is clear, it is crucial to compare highly preferred universities based on key aspects such as specialisms, academic standards, reputation, student satisfaction, on-campus facilities, finances and scholarships, and extracurricular activities.”

Joining any university is an investment for the future. Therefore, it is essential to consider long-term career goals as well as the shorter-term benefits.

“Attending a reputed university certainly brings better career prospects in the long term,” says Roper-Browning.

“The university you choose should be able to demonstrate strong industry links like we do at Heriot-Watt University Dubai. Our graduates are placed in top companies and organisations, as employers around the world value the classroom knowledge and the practical experience we offer to our students.”

Indeed, there are many considerations to take into account when looking for a place to study. Thus, it is beneficial to invest plenty of time in the final decision to ensure you enjoy lucrative future job prospects.

The university one chooses can have a profound impact on a student’s career and future.“Degrees from universities that are highly ranked in the league tables can open the door to many opportunities for students,” says Dr Khyati Shetty, Dean and Head of Business and Humanities at Curtin University Dubai. “Employers are looking for graduates who come from universities that have a high level of industry engagement.”

Through its Student Experience team, Curtin Dubai ensures that students have the opportunity to engage with industry speakers several times a month. And Curtin Dubai’s Careers Centre makes sure that students are able to secure internships throughout their time at the university.

“We are always known by the company we keep and the alma mater we represent,” says Dr Raman Subramanian, Senior Faculty at Westford University College.

“Our actions, words, behaviour, thoughts and values will walk with us all our lives. Universities offer dynamic and life-changing experiences that shape the way we behave and act. It also personifies our values, ethics, professionalism, integrity and social responsibilities. These are the stepping stones for each of us to attain admirable roles and positions as an effective, engaged and committed member of the team.”

While names of some universities speak for themselves, knowing how to choose the best can be difficult for students.

Subramanian suggests, “Investing in education has always remained a thoughtful and an extremely emotional decision. It is important to fact-check institutional validity, reputation, credibility, rankings and accreditation.”

The fact-checking effort can pay dividends as choosing a highly respected university will put you on the path for long-term rewards.

“Finding career success is mainly dependent on one’s knowledge, abilities and personal attributes,” says Roper-Browning.

“However, those who belong to a well-ranked, highly reputed university have an added advantage over the rest, as they tend to be more well rounded in terms of their knowledge, skills, and personality — employers too tend to lean towards them.”

Things to keep in mind when picking a university
Choosing the right university is one of the most critical career moves you will ever make. To ensure you pick the right institute, consider the following:

Look at the course content
Once you choose your subject, you should consider the course content before signing up. Look at whether the institute covers the areas you want to specialise in. Are there practical sessions? If required, will there be research options available for your chosen subject?

What benefits does the university offer?
Claire Roper-Browning, Regional Director - Marketing, Recruitment, Admissions and Communications, Heriot-Watt University Dubai, says, “It is important to consider factors enabling career success such as networking opportunities, internships and work placements while studying, and the careers service department when choosing a university.”

Rankings
The ranking of a university is undoubtedly something to think about. The annual publication of university rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) provides the World University Rankings, which can be found online. In Dubai, KHDA’s annual Higher Education Classification (HEC) gives students the information and data they need to make more confident decisions about their future.