Zainab Ujjaini, Mabel Roy and Imnah Varghese
Left to right: Zainab Ujjaini, Mabel Roy and Imnah Varghese are first year Indian students, currently pursuing Journalism from Middlesex University Dubai. Image Credit: Anjana Jolly/Special to Gulf News

“I aspire to make a difference, to do something that leaves a mark”, said Zainab Ujjaini, a Journalism student from Middlesex University Dubai. The 19 year old spoke about her decision to go against the grain and choose a career based on her passion for writing. Her classmates, Mabel Roy and Imnah Varghese stated that they had a tough time trying to convince their parents who were initially unhappy about their decision to pursue Journalism.

Over the past few years, more and more students have chosen to stray off the beaten track and take up courses based on their skills and interests. While conventional courses like Engineering and Medicine are still highly sought after, others like Business, Information Technology and Media and Design have been steadily gaining popularity.

“Since universities are introducing new courses every year, students are able to pick their interests and choose from a variety of courses instead of just the mainstream ones”, said Bhumika Kalwani, who is currently pursuing International Tourism from Middlesex University Dubai.

Many students succumb to the pressure of high expectations, often combined with a fear of failure and end up doing a course that they are eventually unable to scrape through.

“Many of our acquaintances who joined Engineering and Medicine had to drop out and take up different courses since they were finding it difficult to get through the core subjects”, said Nabata Khan and Fatima Hussain, two Pakistani students who are doing B.Com Accounting from the University of Wollongong Dubai.

An increasing number of students have chosen to make careers out of their interests instead of sacrificing their passion to pursue courses that are considered practical and promising. Zeyad Gabar and Juuan Bashiti, two Film Students of SAE Institute said that their choice of career was based purely on their interests. Another student, Martha Alpenitza, who is currently pursuing Information Technology from Middlesex University Dubai, said: “I am deeply interested in the subject and hope to make a career out of it”.

Some parents said that they were happy with the current scenario where students get to choose from a variety of options.

Geeta Vaswani, whose daughter is preparing for her Boards, said: “I think kids perform better in courses they choose for themselves.” She added that times were changing and it was imperative for students to have more career alternatives. Another parent said: “Many other courses have become as relevant as Engineering and Medicine and this gives children more options to choose from.”

Dr. Yousuf Qadri, the CEO of Qadri International, said that traditional courses have had to make space for emerging ones like Business, Information Technology and Media and Design. Noting the increasing popularity of the latter courses in universities across the UAE, he said that a similar trend was observed in Qadri International as well.

Dr. Qadri said: “While offering career guidance, I believe in addressing both students and their parents together”. He added that, in this way, neither would students be forced to accept their parents’ choices nor would parents feel excluded in the decision making process.

- Anjana Jolly is currently working as an intern with Gulf News.