UAE: Engineering and business are among the most sought after majors by UAE students when studying abroad as well, say higher education experts.

Gulf News spoke to experts about UAE students studying abroad in the UK, US and Canada to learn about the emerging trends.

The UK has, through the years, proven to be a popular destination for students from the UAE. According to Kate Owen, Deputy Director of the British Council in the UAE, there were more than 3,200 students from the UAE studying at university level in the UK last year. In 2002/2003, there were only 1,400 so the numbers have doubled in the past ten years.

“The most popular subjects are, not surprisingly, business and management studies and engineering. Business is always popular as it provides students with general skills and knowledge applicable to a variety of industries. Various engineering disciplines are popular most probably due to market demand — these include aerospace, civil, electrical and electronic, and mechanical engineering,” said Owen.

Other popular subjects include medicine, computer science, law and education. Subjects which are increasing in popularity include economics, psychology and design studies.

Some of the most popular choices include Coventry University, London Business School, the University of Warwick, the University of Manchester and the University of London.

The US is another popular choice for students in the UAE. Peter Davos, founder and managing director of Carian College Advisors, a Dubai-based company that facilitates procedures for students in the UAE who want to study in the US, said that business and engineering are also among the most popular choices among these students.

“By far, the most popular major that students express an interest in is engineering. Most of my students — particularly Emiratis — are interested in pursuing an undergraduate degree in this field. The primary motivating factors for pursuing engineering studies are professional and financial. Emiratis majoring in engineering can be sponsored by UAE companies that will fund their education as well as offer them a permanent position upon graduation.”

As for new trends this year, Davos said that there was increasing demand for double majors: “Quite a few students that seek my advice are interested in pursuing a double major, which is surprising given how rigorous the requirements are for doing so. Some are interested in majoring in two different engineering fields, such as electrical and mechanical engineering, or engineering and applied mathematics.”

Canada is also a popular option among fresh graduates. According to a spokesperson from the Embassy of Canada in Abu Dhabi, the number of UAE students going to study in Canada varies year to year. “In 2012, the Canadian Embassy to the UAE issued 696 study permits for the UAE.”

As for popular majors that UAE students choose to study in Canada, the embassy stated that engineering, medicine, pharmacy, business administration are among the most common options.

Three Canadian cities ranked in the 2012 QS 50 Best Student Cities. The city of Montreal ranked 10th, Toronto ranked 26th and Vancouver ranked 31st.

Canada also has an initiative called the Middle East Education Initiative (MEEI) which is an annual undergraduate student recruitment event organised by the Embassy of Canada for the UAE that hosts the largest group of Canadian educational institutions to the region.

Some students and parents said they were attracted to high-profile universities abroad.

Reem Yousuf, a Palestinian, 18, said: “I just graduated from school and I am applying to universities abroad hoping to get accepted because I think that it will help me get a job with a higher salary if I have a degree from a famous international university.”

Jameela Hussain, a Jordanian, has two sons who want to study medicine and she believes studying abroad is cheaper.

“Studying medicine is very expensive in the UAE and even Jordan so I want to send my sons to Russia because I hear it is cheaper and they have better programmes.”

(Noor Nazzal is an intern at Gulf News).