Preparing for the post-pandemic world is fraught with challenges. Knowing which careers will thrive and what positions may become defunct is perplexing for the best of us. However, UAE universities are successfully rising to the challenge and now offering future-ready courses to prepare tomorrow’s graduates for jobs in emerging sectors with their various new disciplines for the September intake.
“We are always striving to introduce new and future-ready programmes aimed towards the future. We have introduced around 10 new master programmes — all top-ranked in the world and can be combined with online or on-campus learning and are also offered bilingually [English and Arabic],” says Dr Sanjay Batheja, Co-Founder and Director, Capital University College. “Alongside, we are looking at IT-centric programmes as employers look for professionals with a solid IT background.”
As there is a rising demand for first-class education to prepare students for the modern world, universities offer courses that we may not have even heard of some years back. In fact, many of today’s studies are in advanced technologies that are recent innovations.
Michael Lawson, Director of Recruitment, Heriot-Watt University Dubai, says, “We offer courses in disciplines such as artificial intelligence, robotics, cybersecurity, data science and more, all of which enable students to prepare for the careers of tomorrow.”
With careers evolving at a fast rate, universities are continually working to create courses that will meet the needs of their students.
“This September, Middlesex University Dubai is launching two innovative courses in our School of Science and Technology that tap into the increase in digitisation and cybersecurity concerns amid the pandemic: a BEng Honours in electronic engineering, which offers a specialist curriculum designed with partners such as Cisco, and a MSc programme in cybersecurity and pen testing, which trains students to master the crucial field of network security,” says Dr Cody Paris, Deputy Director, Academic Planning and Research, Middlesex University Dubai.
“Our other signature programmes, including our accounting and finance, data science, and LLB (the only face-to-face British qualifying law degree in the UAE), continue to attract strong interest.”
Due to many people having lost their jobs or having to change careers over the past 18 months, universities have witnessed a number of enquiries and applications for courses from those looking to upskill.
Courses for career advancement
“We are seeing that the need for lifelong learning is growing, and there is greater interest from working professionals for upskilling and re-skilling with soft skills gaining greater importance,” says Lawson.
“Accordingly, there is greater interest in our postgraduate and PhD programmes, which equip students with skills specifically geared towards making them successful in a post-Covid-19 workforce scenario.”
At the University of Sharjah, they are also welcoming both undergraduates and graduates through the addition of extra courses being offered.
Dr Hussein M Elmehdi, Dean, Academic Support Services, University of Sharjah, says, “We have launched several academic programmes at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, with focus on MSc and PhD programmes, bringing the total number of fully accredited programmes to 105, covering areas that include engineering, applied sciences, humanities, Islamic studies, law, communications, business administration, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and eight programmes in health sciences.”
With universities providing more subjects than ever before, finding a course that will set students on their chosen career path has never been more accessible.
“Your degree and your passion need not be different. Students can now match their chosen degree with their area of interests.” says Hanil Haridas, Executive Director, Westford University College.
“We provide specialisations for bachelor’s programmes in the field of business, marketing, finance, fashion, sports, psychology and computing. The undergraduate aspirants at Westford are offered a three-year bachelor’s programme with a unique blend of qualifications from Liverpool John Moore’s University, ranked in the top 50 universities in the UK, Canterbury Christ Church University UK, and Higher National Diplomas (HND) from one of the most renowned awarding body — Pearson. Besides, two additional certifications have been added to the three-year programme that acts as a much-desired career launchpad that is laden with the necessary professional competencies and employability skills.”
Indeed, while these quality degree programmes provide international accreditations, the end goal is finding employment successfully, and UAE universities are striving to make this happen.
Paris concludes, “We are committed to ensuring Middlesex University Dubai students are 100 per cent employable when they graduate. We collaborate with partners locally and internationally to ensure all our programmes meet industry requirements and help students gain the expertise they need to compete in today’s fast-moving global job market through exposing them to rigorous, relevant academic knowledge and practical experience.”
Preparing graduates with future-ready skills has always been important to Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Dubai Campus.
“A catalyst in adding new-age versatile programmes to our portfolio such as psychology, business analytics, data science, cybersecurity, fashion design, and fashion management, has been to enhance graduate critical attributes and their employability,” says Dr Sangeetha Vinod, Deputy Registrar, MAHE Dubai. “Our existing flagship programmes like BCom, BBA, MBA, B.Tech and B. Arch, among others, continue to be strengthened with industry partnerships and professional certifications such as ACCA, CIMA, CMA, blockchain, among others.”
Commenting on the changes in course content since the outbreak of the pandemic, Dr Vinod says, “Technology was at the core of the academic delivery last year envisioning MAHE, Dubai, as the ‘University of Future’. MOOC-based blended pedagogy, interwoven into every programme’s course work, was a major game-changer for graduates who were offered free online courses through the Coursera platform. We also used Learning Management System for course content access and discussion boards for learners enabling flipped classrooms.”
The changing face of Business Education
With workplaces changing, universities teaching business qualifications are having to adapt to a post-pandemic environment.
“We are already seeing a sea change in the higher education landscape. Adaptive disruption is already underway where non-traditional online education is making significant dent into the existing physical learning space,” says Dr Arindam Banerjee, Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Global MBA and Master of Global Business, SP Jain School of Global Management.
“Centres of higher learning would increasingly leverage on the flexible virtual learning mode. What lies ahead of us in an education space that would be borderless and universities and technology providers would collaborate on increasing number of areas in imparting cost-effective impactful education. Furthermore, remote learning will enable academics and researchers to work on cross-societal issues and challenges with a deeper sense of purpose.”
Demand for business courses are always in high demand, and this has remained so even during the pandemic, states Dr Banerjee. “What we see today is an increased demand for professionals equipped in areas of data analytics, business intelligence and digital marketing. Additionally, e-commerce related jobs have erupted in the past one year across the region as well as the rest of the world.”
Business courses aren’t only for those wishing to take steps up the career ladder. There are many different reasons high-fliers choose business qualifications to ensure they are ready for whatever the future has in store.
“Choosing a study course is very personal and depends on the individual — current education, work experience and career objectives — and the wider world, which we all recognise as unpredictable,” says Randa Bessiso, Director Middle East, The University of Manchester.
“The Global Part-time MBA students are generally looking to accelerate a current career, switch careers, or become entrepreneurs. With our specialist master’s programmes, students aim to deepen their knowledge of the subject (educational leadership, real estate, financial management) and develop the soft skills required for success. All our students are highly qualified working professionals who bring personal and professional experience to the programmes. Many of our students are preparing and positioning themselves for the anticipated business recovery with the aim of building sustainable careers.”