Abu Dhabi

More and more people are considering UAE-based universities for their graduate education, encouraged by the diversity of new degrees on offer and by the opportunity to work and study at the same time.

In fact, Gulf News found that a large number of visitors on the first day of Najah Abu Dhabi, the capital’s major annual education fair, were interested in masters and doctoral programmes on offer at various universities.

“Today, undergraduate education is considered only the beginning of post-school studies. A growing number of people in the UAE, including working professionals, are pursuing graduate studies, often in fields different from the ones they studied as undergraduates,” said Alaa Hassan, registrar at the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi.

Najah Abu Dhabi kicked off in the capital on Wednesday, and is expected to see more than 16,000 visitors by the time it wraps up on Friday. There are 133 exhibitors, including UAE-based colleges and universities, as well as pavilions for foreign institutions from Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Northern Ireland.

Growing choice in graduate degrees

While there was a wide array of undergraduate degrees and diplomas under discussion at the education fair, many more universities this year highlighted their graduate offerings. In fact, Najah organisers Informa said that nearly 40 per cent of people registering had indicated an interest in finding out more about graduate education.

Sorbonne University itself offers 13 masters programmes, enrolling 20 per cent of the institution’s student body.

“Historically, most universities in the UAE offered masters in business administration, and students who were interested in other fields would have to study them abroad. Today, there is a range of graduate programmes here in the UAE, so many students choose to pursue further education close to home, or as they hold down full-time jobs here,” Hassan said.

The majority of graduate students in the country still opt for degrees in business or management. But the biggest growth in interest is for degrees in the sciences and engineering, including Artificial Intelligence, Engineering Management Systems and Medical Science.

Dr Hanan Al Suwaidi, assistant professor at the College of Medicine at Mohammad Bin Rashid University, said it is no surprise that students are exploring their further studies options.

“The university is barely four years old, but we have a brand new Masters in Biomedical Sciences this year, and two new Masters in specialist nursing fields - paediatrics and cardiology - starting in 2020. There is a lot more choice for graduate students today,” she said.

Khalifa University has also seen one of the biggest growths in graduate student numbers in recent years.

“The number of graduate students we enrolled doubled in 2019 compared to last year. Of course, most students are interested in engineering-related degrees, but there was also a lot of interest in our new American-style medical doctorate programme that enrolled students for the first time this year,” said Dr Yousuf Al Hammadi, acting dean of graduate studies at the Abu Dhabi-based university.

What students say

Visitors who spoke to Gulf News said they had a variety of reasons for looking into the country’s education opportunities.

“I work offshore, and I want to make sure that I am constantly expanding my breadth of knowledge. So I am looking for a health management degree that I can complete online,” said Faisal Issa, a 29-year-old Emirati security professional.

And as always, many students said they loved the chance of staying close to family while pursuing their undergraduate degrees.

“I would like to study medicine, and am just beginning to look at institutions that would let me pursue this line of study while staying close to my family,” said Hareema Hilal, a 12th grader from Pakistan.

Najah Abu Dhabi

Where: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre


Wednesday, 30 October: 9am - 4pm

Thursday, 31 October: 9am - 4pm (Ladies only 9am - 12pm)

Friday, 01 November: 2pm - 8pm

Entry is free.