Image Credit: Shutterstock

Selecting the university of choice touches numerous aspects of a student's future, from career enhancement and the opportunity to court success to being prepped for factors that influence job prospects such as lifelong learning. Considering the importance of this decision, prospective students should think carefully about their options. The choice may not be clear initially for all, but staying prepped could do wonders for one's life choices in the long term.

The UAE’s best universities try to impart a complete and wholesome learning experience that includes everything from academic studies to social activities and beyond. That being said, certain factors still need to be weighed in while making that final decision.

Hanil Das, CEO, Westford University College believes that the ability of a university to provide the sense of a global community on campus makes a world of difference to the life of a student, among other factors.

Hanil Das

“I believe a good university should give you access to five top factors, says Das.

Global community

“The first factor is ensuring the university provides a global community. Your classroom should be a melting pot of cultures, providing the student a better perspective while promoting inclusivity,” says Das.

Affordability and accessibility

The university should not break your bank. “In this instance, Westford provides some of the best and most affordable programmes in the region,” says Das.

Advanced technology

Learning these days is an experience often heightened through the use of technology, and Westford, says Das, has proven its strength in online and blended learning for over a decade.

International collaboration

The university should be collaborative in nature, this exposes the student to various opportunities from around the world.

Continuous learning

“The university should give access to upgrade and level up your educational qualification, this enables lifelong learning to every student,” explains Das

Claire Roper-Browning, Regional Director for Marketing, Recruitment, Admissions and Communications at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, agrees with Das while emphasising on the point of continuous or lifelong learning.

Claire Roper-Browning

“The ability for lifelong learning is of key importance in today’s job market and a key skill of Heriot-Watt University graduates,” says Roper-Browning. “We ensure this is achieved through our teaching approach. We value experiential learning and “learning by doing” outside of the traditional lecture theatre in our workshops, studios, innovation hub and enterprise centre. Through our various outreach programmes, both our existing and prospective students can also engage in activities such as Engineer for a Day, where the aim is to give students a feel of being an engineer in real lif.”

Most importantly, though for Roper-Browning, Heriot-Watt students and graduates benefit from professional, impartial, and confidential careers advice and guidance from specialist Careers Consultants who focus on specific subject areas related to the University’s academic disciplines.

“Our careers programming is tailored to suit each programme of study and helps students identify suitable career pathways, as well as develop the skills required to gain successful employment. We work closely with industry to ensure careers our programming and soft skills workshops are current and prepare our students with the necessary skills to meet changing employer and market needs.”

At American University in Dubai, Sara Sleem, Associate Director of Admissions is of the belief that the factors considered by the youth while scouting for their university of choice keep changing as they become better informed through technology and social media.

Sara Sleem

Peer, classroom and faculty interaction

“The internet has allowed grade 12 students to research and find universities that are not necessarily within their geographic reach,” says Sleem. “However, a few factors remain key throughout their decision making. This would include the student experience they will gain during their higher education journey from peer, classroom and faculty interactions, the extracurricular choices offered to them, and the career and professional support they receive.”

Beyond classroom walls

Alejandro Celli Diaz, Director of Marketing and Admissions, Murdoch University, believes a student's experience at university goes beyond the classroom - it being a crucial social and personal development phase for them.

Alejandro Celli Diaz

"Career readiness, accessibility to faculty, social clubs and availability of excellent job opportunities are important factors to be considered along with the strength and relevancy of the curriculum. At Murdoch, our students aren't lost in the crowd and receive personalised guidance and support - both inside and outside their classrooms.

"The student to faculty ratio is 20:1 and our campus in Dubai Knowledge Park is a warm and safe space for them to learn and become confident, real-world-ready individuals."

MBA or MBA in specialisations?

Das at Westford University College also feels that a university’s ability to skill students through unique and special courses goes a long way to make the institution an alluring prospect. In this instance, he draws upon the rise in popularity of MBA in specialisations, offered by the best universities and business schools, as opposed to general MBA degrees provided by regular institutions of higher study.

“The MBA is a must have professional degree focused on leadership and management and in today’s time, having an MBA can make a world of a difference in your career progression,” says Das. However, general MBAs and MBAs with specialisations have separate roles to play in the professional trajectory of an individual, he states. “While a generic MBA is suitable and advantageous to those who wish to receive an overall knowledge of the inner functions of a business, an MBA with specialisation focus on a specific industry and offer deeper insight and research.

“Specialised MBA’s have multifold of benefits, from opening career opportunities and increasing your earning potential, to gaining business management skills and growing your network.”

Global recognition

Nowadays, the world is also witnessing a growth in the importance parents and students attribute on the personal, individualised experience their children will receive during their undergraduate journey, says AUD’s Sleem. In parallel to the student experience, accreditation also plays a significant role in their decision making, as international and programme-related accreditation provides a future proof guarantee.

“At AUD, are proud to offer degrees that are recognized all over the globe, with the university being accredited by the Southern Association Commission on Colleges in the USA, and the Ministry of Higher Education in the UAE, in addition to the prestigious programme accreditations that the university acquires,” says Sleem. “We are equipped with rigorous academic curricula in a liberal arts context and foster long-life learning and professional readiness, complemented by professional preparation and real-life experiences.

Sleem states that AUD graduates continue to succeed in securing unparalleled job opportunities in the local and international marketplace within six months of graduation.

“Our programmes are designed to ensure that students stay current with the latest developments in emerging fields, and our distinguished AUD faculty are specialists from different areas of expertise, with a varied abundance of professional experience to meet the diverse needs of its students.”