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Abu Dhabi: They have an attractive job with a handsome salary.

If they wish, they could continue this way. But they prefer a more challenging route — one that takes them towards study time, exams and the pursuit of an accredited higher degree.

The trend of adults taking up higher studies even as they pursue their career is catching on in the UAE, say education experts. 


■  Up to 15% annual growth in enrolment
■  Working and studying while pregnant
■  How employers help employees
■  Beyond the comfort zone
■  Most postgraduate students are working people

Looking beyond their immediate environs wherein they hold a good job, these individuals pursue advanced degrees or specific higher studies to better their career prospects.

The defining aspect of their ambition is the need to walk the extra mile even though nothing in their circumstances compels them to get out of their comfort zone.

But the pursuit of ambition also comes at a social cost at times.


For individuals like Nagham Hadi, based in Abu Dhabi, her decision to enrol for an MBA , even though she is a bachelors in pharmacy meant a self-imposed distance from friends an socialising as she prepared for her degree.

“I missed my friends. It was very tough. I slept just three hours during exams but the hard work paid off,” said Hadi.

For other students such as Aprille Batino-Falla, 34, Filipina, the goal is more challenging than normal — because she is also pregnant.

A risk analyst with a private firm in the capital, Batino-Fall is doing her MSc in Project Management from University of Alford, Manchester UK.

“It is really tough. I am actually working in Ruwais during the weekdays so the travel and work stress alone, plus being pregnant, is more than enough to make me just want to rest during the weekends,” said Batino-Falla.

What prompts these aspirants to aim higher? How do these individuals, already employed, negotiate the balance between work and studies?

Do their employers take note of their quest for advancement?

According to universities in the UAE, many postgraduate students in the UAE are also holding a career. The number of students enrolled in masters programmes is growing by 10 to 15 per cent each year, educational consultant told Gulf News.


Also, many employers in the UAE have established mechanisms to support such motivated employees.

To probe the world of studying while working, Gulf News spoke to working students, universities, employers and experts to understand how this balance is being achieved.