Abu Dhabi: Most of the postgraduate students in the UAE are working people, said universities in the UAE.

“About 90 to 95 per cent of our postgraduate students are working,” said Felix Lanceley, Academic Registrar, University of Wollongong in Dubai.

Therefore, postgraduate classes are conducted in the evening. Masters in Business [with different specialisations], engineering management, Human Resources and Marketing are some of the popular courses.

 We find some undergraduate students struggling for motivation but that is not a problem with postgraduate students.”

 - Felix Lanceley | University of WollongongDubai  

Most of the students – both men and women - are in their 20s and 30s and some are older. “We have students of around 100 nationalities.” The university attracts many Emirati postgraduate students who want to advance their career in government.

Lanceley said most of the working people are highly self-motivated and referred to the difference in approach between undergraduates and postgraduates. “We find some undergraduate students struggling for motivation but that is not a problem with postgraduate students. [The latter] have a serious attitude and high expectations…and they generally do very well.”


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Acording to Lancely, the institutional support for these students is strong and well-directed. The working students have to attend classes two or three days a week only and for the rest of the time, they can study from home. “We have an e-learning portal that gives access to lectures,” he said.

His advice to working pople who wish to take up studies is to assess their commitments at work and family before taking up any courses to do justice. It will have a very positive effect with career progression, new connections and opportunities but one has to know about other commitments as well, he said.

Eric Fouache, Vice-Chancellor of Paris Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, said that a majority of masters’ students are working and many of them hold senior positions. “They are very motivated to take up programmes because they want to enhance their careers, and take what they are learning from the courses and to apply it to their daily work.”

The university is very accommodating of such students. “This includes having all masters courses being taught during the evenings and on the weekends, to make things easier for them and to ensure they can attend. We want to create a comfortable environment for our working students,” Fouache said.

“Our priority is to support the workforce of the UAE and to follow the market trends in the country,” he said.

 [University approach] includes having all masters courses being taught during the evenings and on the weekends, to ensure [students] can attend.”

 - Eric Fouache | VC, Paris Sorbonne University  

The university’s masters programmes are extensive and highly sought-after by the students, the vice-chancellor said. Health economics, environment, international business law, banking and finance, are some of the popular subjects. “There are a wide range of choices they can choose from,” he said.

Amit Phulwani, Marketing & Recruitment Coordinator, University of Manchester in Dubai, said it offers flexible programmes to working people.

“We have a dedicated team of advisors to assist our working students; we provide a lot of flexibility when it comes to the courses and their completion,” he said. Working students can take up to five years to complete courses. The students are then able to take breaks if they are too busy with work, and can then return to finish the programme, Phulwani said.

Submission dates for assignments, online tutorial and workshop dates are all set months before the students start, and so they are prepared in advance and can act accordingly manage their time, he said.

Some of the popular subjects selected by working students include strategic management, venture capital and portfolio management, etc.

“It depends on what working students are looking for specifically and how they intend to progress their careers,” Phulwani said.