Alumni networks, career counselling, futureproof education and original research are all important factors to consider when taking the important decision of choosing where to go to university. Regardless of which of these considerations you value most, universities in the UAE clearly have a lot going for them – even managing to maintain standards of education during a pandemic.
“The UAE took immediate action to deal with Covid-19 pandemic and gave support to universities to maintain education and business at the highest possible quality,” says Prof. Esam Agamy, Acting Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (Dean, Quality Assurance, Institut. Effectiveness & Accreditation), University of Sharjah (UoS), adding that UoS quickly took advantage of leadership support, its academic experience and robust IT infrastructure to bring all classes online, without any gaps, while ensuring research activities could continue unabated.
He credits the university’s strong research organisational structure and well-established infrastructure. “The critical lab research continued under strict conditions, while research seminars, forums and similar activities continued virtually. UoS researchers undertook initiatives and produced research related to Covid-19, covering medical, social and basic science aspects.”
The UAE took immediate action to deal with Covid-19 pandemic and gave support to universities to maintain education and business at the highest possible quality.
At RIT University in Dubai’s new campus, several new research labs for faculty and students have been built, specialised in AI, robotics, smart systems, digital transformation, automotive and sustainability, with a net worth of Dh13 million. “The new campus is an open lab where new researched solutions and proof of concepts can be tested,” says Dr Yousef Al Assaf, President of RIT University in Dubai, which allocates a couple of million dirhams on recruiting and supporting the work of research assistants. The faculty hired have distinguished research records, which helps in setting research strategies.
The new campus is an open lab where new researched solutions and proof of concepts can be tested.
To enhance RIT research capabilities further, the university has maintained strategic partnerships with public and private industries. “These have been critical to present to our students with real challenges to tackle during their research and projects. Some courses and labs are taught by industry experts in order to equip the students with the skills needed to not only join the workforce but also to excel at it.”
Other institutions have fostered a culture of entrepreneurial innovation. Amity University Dubai is one of them. “From the successful launch of several student start-ups driven through our Incubation Centre to the construction of a one-of-its-kind Satellite Ground Station for Aerospace Engineering students, we have always focused on integrating new and exciting initiatives into the university model, which will prepare students for the future,” Dr Vajahat Hussain, CEO of Amity Education Middle East, tells GN Focus. He adds that the UAE’s vision for the future, coupled with stability, access to healthcare and security, make it an ideal environment for graduates to take their first steps into the world of work.
“From the successful launch of several student start-ups driven through our Incubation Centre to the construction of a one-of-its-kind Satellite Ground Station for Aerospace Engineering students, we have always focused on integrating new and exciting initiatives into the university model, which will prepare students for the future.
Similarly, BITS Pilani, Dubai Campus (BPDC) has established an Innovation Lab, offering its students 24-7 access to high-end equipment and machinery to transform ideas into working prototypes. “The Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) at BPDC encourages students to think out of the box and guides them through the path of ideation to start-ups,” explains Prof. R.N. Saha, Director of BITS Pilani, Dubai. “Courses such as Entrepreneurship, New Venture Creation and Business Communication help budding entrepreneurs in developing business ideas.”
The Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) at Bits Pilani Dubai campus encourages students to think out of the box and guides them through the path of ideation to start-ups.
BITS Pilani’s vast alumni network also pairs students with mentors, who can provide valuable guidance towards understanding the market preposition of their ideas and help develop business models. “Some students have used these opportunities as a springboard towards entrepreneurship. Start-ups such as Kregzo, NaviFly, Lancify, Trift, Quickbytz, Wrappup, Doxel Inc and Sunferno are a few successful examples to quote.”
Meanwhile, at Gulf Medical University (GMU), the Thumbay Research Institute of Precision Medicine (TRIPM) is focused on multidisciplinary comprehensive and translational research around cancer immunology and immunotherapy. “TRIPM concentrates its efforts on the development of state-of-the-art research technology platforms — liquid biopsy, NGS, functional genomics, imaging and gene editing — fundamental to position the centre on the international stage and as a regional leader in personalised cancer immunotherapy, at the same time creating a critical mass of talented scientists,” explains Prof. Hossam Hamdy, Chancellor of GMU.
Thumbay Research Institute of Precision Medicine (TRIPM) concentrates its efforts on the development of state-of-the-art research technology platforms — liquid biopsy, NGS, functional genomics, imaging and gene editing.
Thanks to GMU’s link with the Thumbay network of hospitals, students have the chance to learn from leading medical experts, as well as hands-on experience with cutting-edge healthcare technology.
Networking and alumni
The University of Manchester’s Middle East Centre in Knowledge Village has become the institution’s fastest-growing international outpost, putting through 2,700 part-time master’s students since its opening in 2006. “The University of Manchester chose to establish the Middle East Centre in Dubai not only because of the location, word-class infrastructure and communications but also the business-friendly environment and unique higher education free zone,” says Randa Bessiso, Director-Middle East, The University of Manchester. “It was the right decision.”
The University of Manchester chose to establish the Middle East Centre in Dubai not only because of the location, word-class infrastructure and communications but also the business-friendly environment and unique higher education free zone. It was the right decision.
One of the biggest value-adds of a Manchester education, says Bessiso, is access to a sizeable regional and global alumni network, which every new student is automatically enrolled into. “The Alliance Manchester Business School global alumni network extends to 176 countries and 60,000 members and there is a very active programme of career, business and social activities to encourage engagement and share experience.”
At Murdoch Dubai, research collaboration with campuses in Perth and Singapore leverage the network’s capacity and allows quicker outcomes than would have been possible while working in isolation, says Dr James M Trotter, Dean and Academic President at Murdoch Dubai.
Future-proofing a career
“The global workforce demands employees with multiple skillsets. As an international university with campuses in Dubai, Perth and Singapore, Murdoch University caters to this demand by developing students who are looking for an education relevant to the contemporary workplace.” To this end, the Dubai campus lets students study multiple disciplines within the same degree programme. Dr Trotter says being able to specialise in more than one subject allows students to build the knowledge and skillsets required for multiple career paths in an ever-evolving workplace.
The global workforce demands employees with multiple skillsets. As an international university with campuses in Dubai, Perth and Singapore, Murdoch University caters to this demand by developing students who are looking for an education relevant to the contemporary workplace.
While a student support team provides one-on-one consultation on areas such as time management, research and writing skills, Murdoch’s online career portal lists job and internship postings from its corporate partners.
“Finally, our Career Learning Spine is embedded in all of our undergraduate courses. These units are spread across all levels of the course, providing students with a career focus across their entire course from day one until graduation. The curriculum is specifically designed to ensure students are consciously building their ‘enterprise skills’ and working towards preparing themselves for real-life work opportunities throughout the entirety of their degree.”
From innovation ecosystems to alumni connections and futureproof career options, there are many reasons why a degree from one of these institutions could make an excellent long-term investment.
Campus recruitment and internship opportunities
In an increasingly competitive world of work, the experience a graduate already has on their CV prior to completing their degree can provide them an invaluable edge in the employment market. Here, we look at a few UAE universities and their career offerings.
“At Westford University College, internships and job-shadowing opportunities are a logical extension of the learning curve,” explains Hanil Haridas, Executive Director, Westford University College. He adds that this allows students to partake in full- and part-time opportunities at prestigious institutions across UAE for hands-on-experience at company premises. Westford’s Career Development Cell assists and supports students with internships and campus recruitment opportunities, as well as training, coaching and mentoring.
For those more interested in a career in medicine, Prof. Hossam Hamdy, Chancellor of Gulf Medical University, says, “The GMU Academic Health System offers abundant clinical training facilities within its academic health centres via the Thumbay network of hospitals and clinics, Thumbay Labs and Thumbay Pharmacies.”
Meanwhile, at RIT University in Dubai, industry plays a key role in the design and delivery of programmes, including AI, cybersecurity, smart systems and data analysis, explains Dr Yousef Al Assaf, President of RIT University in Dubai. RIT’s co-op/internship programme, which he says is supported by sound local and international organisations, brings an experiential edge to student learning experiences, as well as a consulting and research aspect.
Claire Roper-Browning, Regional Director for Marketing, Recruitment, Admissions and Communications (MRAC) at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, says the university’s track record at securing highly sought-after industry placements is one of its biggest strengths.
Aside from imparting professional, impartial and confidential advice, the university’s specialist career advisors also focus on specific subject areas. “Our careers advisors guide students and graduates on how to go about making informed career choices, managing their future career development, accessing opportunities to develop the skills employers demand and achieve their goals.” Numerous skills development workshops, on-campus careers fairs, employer presentations and graduate recruiter networking sessions have also benefited graduates.
Dr Khyati Shetty, Head of Business and Humanities at Curtin University Dubai, says, “Our careers centre offers one on one consultations, a series of workshops, an opportunity for an interview at the university’s job fair and access to our online job portal that lists opportunities across the globe.”