AI, cybersecurity, gaming, public health most sought-after among students, say officials at GETEX

New wave of novel programmes and change in application patterns being witnessed in UAE


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Thu 24 Feb 2022, 5:22 PM

Last updated: Thu 24 Feb 2022, 7:19 PM

AI, cybersecurity, gaming and public health are the most sought-after programmes among students in the post-pandemic era, education experts said at GETEX, noting that Dubai is fast emerging as the preferred choice for higher education among students from different parts of the world.

Universities in the UAE have also witnessed a 50 per cent surge in student applications, with wards from Africa increasingly choosing Dubai as a popular destination for higher education.

Education experts at the Global Education & Training Exhibition told Khaleej Times that programmes like cybersecurity, AI and big data, gaming, public health, sustainability degree programmes and courses in the aviation sector are experiencing an uptick in demand.

Prof Mohamed Vall M. Salem Zein, President, Pro Vice-Chancellor (MENA), University of Wollongong in Dubai said, “We have seen a change in pattern of applications. The domestic applications for the Spring intake have increased by 50 per cent. We’ve seen massive increase in direct international application from Nigeria and markets like Ethiopia that didn’t exist, as well as former Soviet Union countries such as Uzbekistan. Our traditional market in domestic is strong. We’ve seen India-International coming back. So, all indicate that people are putting Covid-19 behind.”

Zein said: “The most popular courses … Computer Science has seen major growth in 2020-21. Half of the intake is cybersecurity. Gaming is very popular. Our AI combined with big data is also very popular. We’ve equally seen strong demand for computer engineering. We are working with our campus in Australia for the development or a full revamp of a new master’s degree in Public Health. We are looking at how to handle situations like Covid.”


Dr Kashif Rajpoot, associate professor and programme director (Computer Science) at the University of Birmingham Dubai said: “Both programmes are very popular at our UK campus and are increasing in demand here in the UAE. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are already finding their way into our daily lives in areas that include automated language translation, speech recognition, movie and product recommendation, face identification and other applications.

“In medical diagnostics, AI techniques are beginning to be used to filter vast medical datasets to provide doctors with new insights that can be used to inform a diagnosis or treatment plan.”

Universities work closely with industries to update their courses to reflect evolving industry trends, so that students are ready to take on reimagined and emerging roles due to increasing globalisation and digitisation.

Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, pro-Vice chancellor of Middlesex University and director of Middlesex University Dubai, said: “Through our research centres and the Institute of Sustainable Development, we’re focused on sustainability and supporting the wider community in the UAE and across the globe to implement associated best practices in their organisational processes. For example, our ISD has partnered with logistics giant DHL to provide a sustainability training programme to employees in the Mena region, and our head of education has partnered with Dubai Cares to host a free training series for teachers on how the UN Sustainable Development Goals can be incorporated into the classroom.”

Right-skilling post-pandemic aviation workforce

University representative from the aviation industry said training is essential to right-skill the post-pandemic workforce in the aviation sector that is witnessing a resurgence this year.

Maha Hmeid, head of enrollments and student affairs at Emirates Aviation University, said,: “We are seeing improvement in enrollments in the post pandemic era. We’ve seen challenging times earlier, but now the numbers are improving.

Aviation is not only flying – pilots and cabin crew. There are different specializations such as airport management, aviation management, aeronautical engineering, aircraft maintenance engineering, logistics and others.”

The Emirates Aviation University has launched two new undergraduate programmes in 2021 - BSc in Data Sciences and BSc in Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence.

“We see an increased interest generated around these two disciplines especially because of what happened during Covid. Everything went online and e-learning started…not just in the education sector, even in the commercial sector. So, students started realizing the importance of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence,” added Hmeid.

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