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Dr Fazal Malik Pro Vice Chancellor, Amity University Dubai

Dr Fazal Malik

In the new educational landscape, technological resources play as important a role as the quality of faculty and education. How is Covid-19 reshaping the UAE higher education sector?

Creating a self-sustainable university campus where students have access to information, knowledge and technology, has always been a focus area for us. Our engineering, science, design and media labs are equipped with modern technology and devices that give students a better understanding about advanced methods and software used in industries. The Amity Satellite Ground Station is one such initiative. Through the ground station, aerospace engineering students learn how to analyse data, predict weather, water reservoirs, elevation levels, pollution and population levels. Positively influencing various areas of research and creating a pathway for students to achieve their career goals is key.

Amity University Dubai has recently launched a unique AI lab. How will this enhance teaching, learning and research in this field?

The AI lab aims to give students the opportunity to explore the vast potential of this growing field with a focus on the research and development of intelligent, cognitive systems. Here, students can apply AI to various aspects of everyday lives to improve the way we work and increase productivity. The inter-disciplinary hub conducts discussions, workshops and real-time experiments. Through quality research and study, we want to help implement AI approaches to industries and education. Students can also use the lab’s teaching and learning tools to improve their classroom experience.

Hanil Haridas, Executive Director, Westford University College

Hanil Haridas

The pandemic has stimulated a vision of a technologically-enabled and enhanced future of industry and the workplace. In this scenario, how do you prepare learners for the job market?

According to a report by the World Economic Forum, 42 per cent of the core skills required to perform a job will change in the next two years. At Westford, we have identified these changes and aim to make our students corporate ready. To accomplish these goals, we, at Westford, have taken various initiatives to enhance students’ performances such as WeConnect with business leaders, WeTalk, mentorship programme, entrepreneurial programmes, postgraduate diploma in career development and business etiquettes, Chartered Management Institute (CMI) programme and many more. These help bridge the industry–academia gap and prepare students for the future workplace.

What factors should students consider before deciding on a programme?

Today, student success in higher education is being measured by their employability skills. Hence, students must consider the employability factor of their programme. Studying at Westford will give you an advantage in your future career prospects. Westford has embedded employability skills into the curriculum. We have built productive relationships with the industry and use these resources to enable our students to be the leaders of tomorrow. Initiatives such as Westford Internship Programme and Westford Placement Support help students in permanent placements and internship opportunities.

Dr Cody Paris, Deputy Director Academic Planning and Research and Associate Professor of Social Science, Middlesex University Dubai

Dr Cody Paris

Which courses will give students the best chance of success in a post-Covid world? Are you introducing any new courses in 2022?

According to a LinkedIn report, jobs in sectors such as finance, digital marketing, content creation, education and technology were on the rise in 2021. From what we’ve seen as educators and in our collaborations with industry, these trends will remain the priority in 2022 as organisations continue to meet this rapid shift in consumer needs. With UK accredited programmes in Education, Media, Information Technology, Digital Marketing and more, we’re in a strong position to prepare our graduates to master the skills needed to distinguish themselves in today’s competitive job market.

What new learning trends are gaining traction in the UAE?

It is clear that hybrid and industry-relevant learning is here to stay. Offering classes both in person and online allows our students to work flexibly using the learning method they prefer and also ensures our international students who are studying online feel part of our community. Our faculty also offer one-on-one virtual appointments for all students to discuss topics they need more advice on, about which we’ve received very positive feedback. Students also feel that they are getting more out of their student experience when their faculty and university support staff help them access opportunities to connect with industry. This way, they feel their education is relevant to their chosen profession.

Hanadi Khalife, Senior Director, MEA & India Operations, Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)

Hanadi Khalife

What are the best ways mid-career professionals in finance can pivot, future-proof and thrive during change?

Digital transformation has become an essential aspect of every organisational strategy. This affects every function, especially the finance and accounting profession that has stepped up amid the pandemic, to become an integral part of the decision-making process. As such, the CMA programme focuses on maintaining professional relevance by helping candidates acquire the knowledge and skillsets they will need to not only deal with highly volatile global changes, but to also thrive under such pressure.

While the CMA covers fundamental areas of management accounting, it also looks at evolving professionals’ ability to become future leaders capable of leveraging the influx of data to drive stronger decisions and support sustainable business growth. Another area for development for mid-career professionals looking to advance to the next level is emotional intelligence. Importance of soft skills is rising, particularly after the pandemic as companies worldwide have begun adopting human-focused organisational culture strategies.

Finally, I would also recommend they join member-based organisations such as IMA, where they can not only maximise their knowledge of the finance and accounting industry but also build their global network of like-minded professionals and further expand their horizons.