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Workshop at the Emirates Aviation University in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: With demand for aviation professionals predicted to skyrocket as the commercial aviation industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, students are increasingly attracted to aviation studies in Dubai.

The Emirates Aviation University (EAU) in Dubai has recorded a steep rise in the number of students seeking to join various courses under it. “This year we have received a large number of applications,” said Dr Ahmad Al Ali, vice-chancellor of Emirates Aviation University (EAU).

“It is higher than any years we had before. And that’s due to the fact that the pandemic is almost lifted… and the shortage of skilled staff in the aviation industry has created a huge opportunity for students and even employees from other industries,” he said during a media interaction on Monday.

Dr Ahmad Al Ali
Dr Ahmad Al Ali Image Credit: Supplied

This year, EAU has received around 3,000 applications for its undergraduate programmes, which is almost double the number of applications it had received for the 2019- 2020 academic year.

“We have surpassed the pre-pandemic figures in enrolment also and it is still continuing,” said Dr Al Ali.

Huge resurgence

With travel experiencing a huge resurgence, resulting in resource constraints post-pandemic, commercial aviation is on a steep growth trajectory and the travel industry is offering significantly more avenues for employment opportunities.

Boeing’s 2022 Pilot and Technician Outlook has forecast that 602,000 pilots, 610,000 maintenance technicians and 899,000 cabin crew members will be needed to support the global commercial fleet over the next two decades.

The aviation sector is looking to recruit, train and retain technical experts, specialists, generalists and professionals to address the current shortages within the industry post pandemic.

“We have always noticed that whenever there is a downturn, the aviation industry is the first one to pick up. It picks up at a very fast pace. So it’s only natural that people would come and choose aviation industry as a field of study and obviously, they like to work in aviation,” said Dr Al Ali.

However, he pointed out that staff shortage in the aviation sector has not hit the local industry significantly. “The impact on the UAE is significantly lower than Europe and other regions of the world, partly because we graduate about 400-500 students every year,” he said.

Apart from the shortage in the global industry resulting in demand for professionals, he said, the emirate being a hub of aviation also attracts more students here.

“Given that the UAE, and in particular Dubai, is a hub for aviation, with four major airlines, including Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia and fly dubai, it is only natural that people who come here want to study aviation.”

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Currently, there are 1,500 students at the university campus, including 350 new undergraduate students who have enrolled for the 2022-2023 academic year. Image Credit: Supplied

Programme details

According to Dr Al Ali, EAU’s programmes – ranging from undergraduate, postgraduate, professional courses and interactive online programmes – are designed to help provide a steady pipeline of candidates to aviation, travel, IT, engineering and other major industries to support their growth.

Currently, there are 1,500 students at the university campus, including 350 new undergraduate students who have enrolled for the 2022-2023 academic year. Classes commenced just last week, so students continue to apply and enrol.

“We’ve around 250 postgraduate students who are currently enrolled at the University. They are mostly international students who were mostly following hybrid classes because of the pandemic. Most of them want to be on the campus now.”

The education arm of The Emirates Group and the region’s leading aviation university, the EAU has a capacity to accommodate 5000 students at its campus in Dubai International Academic City. Dr Al Ali said the university also offers excellent accommodation facilities for international students.

Internship and scholarship

“Our programmes are actually unique because they are enhanced with a six-month internship within the Emirates Group. So every student has an opportunity to work within the aviation industry, which is the Emirates Group… They also get 15 credit hours towards a degree so they don’t have (to do) the internship after they finish as it is integrated within their programme.”

On an average, the university also offers around 50 scholarships a year of up to 50 per cent off the course fees, regardless of students’ nationalities. “We also offer discounts to corporate organisations employees and their family members.”

As part of its students exchange programme, EAU has collaborated with international universities such as Coventry University in the UK. Every student has the option to register for a dual award, including the EAU award and Coventry University’s award.

Students who opt for the exchange programme will get dual degrees from both the universities.

The courses that are high in demand include aviation management, aeronautical engineering and flight operations management.

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Apart from the accreditations from the local entities, EAU recently received accreditation from Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education Image Credit: Supplied

Successful careers

EAU students – both undergraduate and postgraduate – have successful careers in top aviation-related companies including airlines, aerospace, and airports, and others such as automotive, said Dr Al Ali.

In 2020-21, despite the pandemic, an impressive 84 per cent of EAU students—excluding those who went on to pursue post-graduate studies—were placed at top companies including Emirates, Boeing, Airbus, Thales, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise and government entities like Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, General Civil Aviation Authority etc.

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Ratings, accreditations

“We are the first non-federal educational entity to receive a 5-star QS rating in the region for teaching, employability, facilities, inclusiveness and social responsibility. The MBA in Aviation Management also received 5-star rating.”

Apart from the accreditations from the local entities, EAU recently received accreditation from Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), the UK’s independent quality body and a global leader in quality assurance for higher education. It is also gearing up to host the International Aviation Management Conference on November 21 and 22.

The conference provides a global platform where aviation management professionals, from both the industry and the academia, come together to discuss key strategic issues facing the industry and present contemporary research findings.

As for the change in the focus in courses post-pandemic, Dr Al Ali said subjects like mathematical modelling, data sciences and artificial intelligence are being incorporated.

The EAU has produced more than 25,000 graduates ever since its humble beginnings in 1991 as an aviation college that offered diploma programme in aerospace engineering.