Dubai: University professors in the UAE believe innovation and entrepreneurship, academic integrity and time management should be taught as subjects in schools.

Professor Fadi Aloul, associate professor of Computer Engineering at the American University of Sharjah (AUS), said he had noticed that freshmen students have some weaknesses in innovation, soft skills, team work and time management.

“I have been teaching a mandatory freshmen course, taken by 600 students per semester for the past 11 years, and I have noticed that some students do not know how to work in teams. Presenting and writing is another area of weakness that can be focused on in schools.”

Aloul said innovation and entrepreneurship, which are of growing interest today and can be of value for any student, should be taught in schools. “Why wait for the university to teach that? That can start at the school level to help them be innovative from day one in university.”

On the other hand, Zeenath Reza Khan, instructor, Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences at the University of Wollongong in Dubai for the past 13 years, believes academic integrity is the most important.

“One of the most crucial areas of weakness in students is academic integrity. Academic integrity is something that needs to be instilled in students right from primary school as students who have a strong sense of academic integrity are found to be honest, trustworthy professionals, business personalities and stand-up citizens who help uphold law and order in the society.”

Khan said academic writing and time management are other areas that need to be focused on as well.

Rachel Baldwin, Dean of Student Services at the American University in Dubai, believes critical thinking, soft skills training, study skills, time management and conflict resolution, should be taught in schools.

“Some subjects may be covered within the curriculum as part of a specific course. However, life courses are valuable for all students, so it is best for those subjects to be offered both inside and outside the classroom.”