How UAE universities future proof graduate employability – Gulf News

Unis are launching new courses to prepare students for careers in the post-Covid world
In the world of business, every industry has been challenged in dramatic and unexpected ways during the pandemic. This means that the demands of the workplace have radically changed too, and the next generation of graduates needs to be ready to navigate this brave new world.
It has therefore fallen to universities to answer the call and develop new skill-focused courses and promote new ways of thinking. But for new students, it can be tough deciding which degree to choose to get a competitive edge in this new job market. Aside from the fact that there are simply so many courses out there, life is changing faster than ever before.
But there are trends that point in the right direction.
“The landscape of future education is evolving around technology, sustainability, and its management – and this broadly holds true for all industries alike,” says Dr Jason Fitzsimmons, Academic President at Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) Dubai.
“Being future-ready is about being a holistically developed individual, balancing these three aspects with ease and expertise. Individuals with sound core skills coupled with essential soft skills developed through various activities at university will make the most of such future workplaces. ‘What to learn’ is already being taken over by ‘how to learn.’ Therefore, it’s important for the student community to aspire to become well-balanced holistic individuals.”
Dr Fitzsimmons says digital literacy, flexibility, multi-tasking, and time management are some of the key qualities the post pandemic workplace will require. Manipal has therefore developed a healthy balance of curricular and co-curricular activities to ensure students are nimble enough.
The school also has a dedicated career services department to train students on the dynamics of modern workplaces, while also launching a bachelor’s and a master’s programme in Applied Psychology to answer the serious demand for psychology professionals.
When it comes to initiating cross sector, future-focused research and learning and making curricula more impactful, UAE’s top schools are getting strategic.
At Middlesex University Dubai, teaching and learning is infused with research-driven academic education led by initiatives such as its in-house institutes, including the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Centre for Innovation in Human Experience.
“These research institutes engage with private industry, governments and academia to promote cross-sector research collaborations and support student research,” says Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Middlesex University and Director of Middlesex University Dubai.
“Many of our students across a diverse range of programmes have won prestigious research prizes at competitions such as the Abu Dhabi University Research Competition, supported and guided by our faculty.”
There are more than 70 UK programmes at Middlesex rooted in providing students with the skills and experience to contribute to the communities in which they live and work.
Dr Fernandes continues, “Two of our forward-thinking programmes for September 2021 include BA Honours Business Management with seven specialisms, and MSc Robotics – both of which tap into sectors that are at the heart of future development, especially in the UAE.
“Business-savvy, innovative thinkers who take the initiative and can spot growth opportunities as well as qualified robotics engineers are in demand. Employers are setting long-term targets and they need employees who can help them grow while having a positive societal impact.”
At City University College of Ajman (CUCA), the main ethos is that the best way to prepare new students for the changing employment landscape is to create a direct link between them and employers through industry-academia collaborations.
All of CUCA’s programmes have an advisory committee consisting of field experts and academicians to advise on keeping the programmes current and closely interfaced with the demands of the specific industry.
Imran Khan, President at CUCA, also says that the remote learning skills acquired due to Covid-19 must be continued and enhanced. “Virtual learning became a quintessential means for every student to continue their education and the usefulness of this know-how will continue even after the pandemic and prepare them for a more virtual world. It’s an important skill for becoming future-ready,” he says.
Khan adds that his college constantly enhances its technology infrastructure to support effective delivery of programmes whether for in-person or distance learning. This allows students to stay abreast with the use of technology to support their learning experience.
He also suggests it is essential parents get to grips with what becoming future-ready really means as their children pick courses. “Then they can be a constant source of encouragement and help them explore ways to develop future skills off campus as well as on campus.”
“From the discussions with MBA employers, it emerges to be of paramount importance to master communication, leadership and negotiation skills, in a work environment expected to be more and more characterised by teams collaborating from across different parts of the world and a greater degree of digital operations,” says Dr Davide Contu, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Management, Canadian University Dubai.
“Our MBA courses take these challenges into account to better prepare the leaders of tomorrow.” The university also has strong links with external businesses to bring real world experience to its students.
“Guest speaker series are frequently conducted by representatives of the industry and academia. For instance, Priyanka De Noronha, from Johnson & Johnson Canada, discussed the role of data in decision making with a focus on healthcare products. Anju de Alwis, from Ultimate Access, has exposed students to current examples of business valuation.”
GN Focus report
Gulf Medical University (GMU) offers a robust, outcome competency- based curriculum aligned to international competency framework, with early exposure to clinical training and experience with patients from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
“Students gain the competitive edge from their experience working with cutting-edge research infrastructure and facilities at GMU,” says Prof. Hossam Hamdy, Chancellor of GMU.
“The university has abundant clinical training facilities within its academic health centres where students learn from leading medical experts and gain hands-on experience on cutting-edge healthcare technology. The internationally accredited systems at Thumbay hospitals and clinics not only prepare students for a global healthcare career, but also equip them with futuristic competencies.”
GN Focus report

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