A student volunteers wears
A student-volunteer wearing a university mascot high-fives a visitor at Dubai’s Getex university fair on Wednesday. Image Credit: Faisal Masudi / Gulf News

Dubai: There has been a strong turnout of student volunteers at Dubai’s Getex university fair where they are guiding applicants with admissions queries.

The latest spring edition of Getex — or Gulf Education and Training Exhibition — is featuring over 220 national and international universities recruiting new students till Friday at Zabeel Hall 4 of Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Almost every stand at Getex is surrounded by student volunteers assisting prospective recruits and their parents with queries about their university.

Why they are lending a hand? The volunteers had various motivations: gaining work experience, boosting self-confidence, and meeting new people.

Many volunteers also receive a stipend from their university, but said it's only a secondary incentive for participating. Volunteers and universities did not wish to disclose the stipend amount.

Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, pro-vice chancellor and director at Middlesex University Dubai, said the university has 45 student volunteers at three-day Getex this year.

“Volunteering is one of our requirements towards preparing students for the job market. Over the academic year, more than 1,000 students volunteer at university events, which are mostly run by them. We believe volunteering gives them interpersonal communications skills, it builds their confidence, but mostly importantly it teaches them responsibility,” Dr Fernandes added.

Gulf News met a number of volunteers, most of them first-timers, who shared their motivation to be at Getex.

Mustafa Kur, second-year IT, Skyline University College (Sharjah)

“We know employers require work experience, so my university offers students a chance to go out and work – and Getex is one such experience. I’m glad to get a chance to be out, gain experience and talk to people.

Of course, I received some training also about how to answer queries. We did our research before we got here. In the future, I will use these skills in my company’s project presentations and business meetings. So we’re not here to just talk.”

Zakiah Dabour, second-year psychology, Heriot-Watt University Dubai

“I think student volunteering is great – for everyone. Since you’re already in the university, you’re giving new applicants the student’s point of view. I also spoke to my friends from other majors, so if someone asks me about those programmes, I’ll be ready with answers.

"My field is psychology but not everyone is interested in psychology. You have to guide people about other options. I can also use what I learned from this experience to guide my siblings – what are the programmes, what are the options, what is the admissions process like.”

Waqas Sarguroh, fourth-year management, Rochester Institute of Technology – Dubai

I’ve been volunteering for six years at Getex. I’m an all-rounder – sometimes I play the RIT mascot ‘Richi’, sometimes I’m promoting RIT Dubai as a student. I’m more of a people person. And it’s a way of giving back to the university, which is giving us a lot in terms of education and making us believe in ourselves. Sometimes you feel that you don’t do enough for your university, so that is also why I volunteer at Getex.


Total number of higher education institutions in Dubai

Delfina Ferrao, third-year international business, Middlesex University Dubai

I’ve volunteered for my university for different events over the past few years and this is my first time volunteering at Getex. I complete 100 hours of volunteering last year. Getex is a big deal and they choose the best volunteers to represent the university. I love communicating with people and meeting new people, learning about their experiences. I’m planning to do PR and communications as well, and I feel if I can do this at university, I can do it anywhere outside as well.

Did you know?
- According to latest figures released at Getex on Wednesday by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai has 64 higher education institutions.

-37 of those are in Dubai free zones, such as Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Park.

- As of last count, 29,989 students study in Dubai free zones – 29 per cent of them international students

- Dubai is home to 33 international branch campuses, ahead of Malaysia (16) and Singapore (14)

- 17 higher education providers are locally based

- 11 are local government institutions

- 3 are run by the federal government of the UAE

- In Dubai, the private sector accounts for 78 per cent of higher education provision