Armed with degrees

Aisha Yaqub recently completed her bachelor’s course in digital production. She decided to opt for a second bachelor’s course in journalism after which she plans to do a double master and complete her formal education with a doctoral degree.


Muaz Shabandri

Published: Tue 2 Nov 2010, 9:42 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:51 PM

Aisha is among a growing number of students who are pursuing multiple degrees to get an upper hand in an increasingly competitive job market.

“In this time, with the after affects of a financial crisis looming over us and people going out of jobs, having multiple degrees gives me an added advantage over others,” says Aisha.

“I wanted to do something different and more interesting and that’s when I decided to do the journalism programme.”

Getting a good formal education is essential in finding that perfect job, but the choice remains with the student, says Dr Warren Fox, executive director of Higher Education at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

“It is really up to the students and they ultimately decide if they want to go and pursue multiple degrees in the same discipline or graduate in different disciplines.

“Students may pursue one degree for personal interest and one to better their employment chances. Some employers value the double degrees and it shows extra effort on behalf of the student,” adds Dr Warren who also heads the University Quality Assurance International Board (UQAIB).

The world is expecting more credentials and there is a growing need for better qualified professionals, educational experts say.

“In a knowledge economy, people need to commit to learning throughout life. An undergraduate degree provides a broad perspective to shape your imagination while a master’s programme provides a more in-depth understanding,” says Dr Greg Jones, vice-president and provost for Global Strategy and Programmes at Duke University.

The current state of economy has left many experienced professionals unemployed and the situation has forced many to reconsider their career options by taking up educational programmes.

Advising students to combine different disciplines, Dr. Greg says, “To add real value, a student needs to specialise in a select core area. Studying health and business management is more practical than just studying business management at the master’s level.”

While some students consider getting multiple degrees time consuming and challenging, many find the experience enjoyable.

Roeia Thabet who is currently pursuing her doctorate in education at the British University in Dubai (BUiD) says the programme has helped her “fundamentally”.

“After working for two years in a school, I felt the need to advance my level of expertise and that’s when I decided to pursue a doctoral programme.”

Roeia is currently working on her thesis ‘Education for sustainable development’ while continuing to work in a school.

“A doctorate programme offers a more in-depth and improved understanding of what was studied at the master’s level. Having good grounding in education, the PhD will broaden the scope of my work and help me build my skills, knowledge and experience.”

The majority of students in the UAE attend school and go on to university for their undergraduate studies. Many further their education as post-graduates and some even take up doctoral programmes.

“In the current global market, flexibility is very important and that often means multiple courses, mixtures of compatible areas. Specialists frequently comment that in a knowledge economy the chances are high that a person will actually shift professions a few times in their careers,” says Dr Clifton Chadwick, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Education at BUiD.

“The doctoral degree definitely puts the person in the top level of their profession. It provides them with broad and deep knowledge that allows them to analyse, evaluate and direct policy and strategy, better predict future outcomes, and better understand where their business or organisation requires modifications to anticipate changes for the future,” adds Dr Clifton.

While there is no definite end to formal education, more and more courses are being offered at the master’s level as students can choose from more than 300 courses in the UAE.

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