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Emirati youth to succeed professionally because of quality higher education, study says

Abu Dhabi - Survey finds an overwhelming majority of Emirati university students are satisfied with quality educational resources


Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Mon 15 Mar 2021, 1:42 PM

A new study commissioned by Mohamed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations (MBZMFG) has revealed that around nine among 10 (87 per cent) Emirati university students have expressed their satisfaction with the quality of higher education that they are receiving. More than nine out of 10 said their educational resources and quality of coursework meet or exceed their expectations.

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An overwhelming majority, or 91 per cent, are also confident they will be able to achieve their professional goals and 86 per cent said their education has equipped them with skills that would help them succeed professionally.

Nearly half, or 45 per cent, said the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on their higher education experience. However, once Covid-19 is fully contained, 49 per cent of Emirati university students said they would like to see a mix of online and in-person coursework, while another 16 per cent would prefer to continue with remote learning on a permanent basis.

Educational pressures, Covid-19 pandemic are causing stress and mental health issues

With Covid-19 putting mental health in the spotlight, the study also examined stress factors impacting the young Emiratis. A strong majority, or 75 per cent, of young Emiratis described their mental health and wellbeing as excellent or good. But one in four, or 25 per cent, said their mental health is not good or poor. Nearly half, or 44 per cent, said the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental wellbeing, with the number rising to 66 per cent among those who describe their current mental health as not good or poor.

The Covid-19 pandemic, however, is not the only factor causing stress and negatively impacting the mental health of young Emiratis. When asked about the main causes of stress in their daily lives, the top three factors that rise to the top are educational pressures, as 78 per cent cited it as a stress factor, uncertainty about future employment, according to 50 per cent, and the Covid-19 pandemic by 53 per cent of respondents.

Preserving Emirati culture is a top priority

Nearly three in four, or 74 per cent, of Emirati youth said that preserving the Emirati culture, values and traditions should be a top priority for the UAE over the next decade, on par with some of the much-discussed national priorities, such as increasing technological innovation in the UAE (74 per cent) and diversifying the country’s economy (72 per cent). Nearly as many (71 per cent) also wanted the UAE to make the preservation of the Arabic language a top priority over the next decade.

AI seen as the most important new technology

Emirati youth fully embrace the role of technology as a driver of positive change. More than four in five (81 per cent) say technology is a force for good and positive progress and 74 per cent believe that investing in technology should be a top priority for the UAE over the next decade.

The country’s youth are pinning their hopes on artificial intelligence (AI) to emerge as the most consequential new technology. When asked which new technologies are most important for the UAE to further invest in over the next decade, 70 per cent pointed to AI, far surpassing other new and emerging technologies such as robotics (29 per cent), 5G (27 per cent), big data and data analytics (24 per cent) or drones (23 per cent).

Mixed opinion over the role of social media

Young Emiratis have embraced social media as a significant part of their daily lives but split on the role played by social media. While 49 per cent of young Emiratis say social media is mostly a force for good and positive progress, a significant share (39 per cent) think social media can cause more harm than good. On a daily basis, 84 per cent young Emiratis use WhatsApp, while Instagram (73 per cent), Snapchat (72 per cent), YouTube (43 per cent) and Twitter (40 per cent) are the next four top social media platforms used by Emirati youth daily.

Social media is the most prevalent source of news among young Emiratis, with nearly four in five (79 per cent) saying they get their news on social media, far exceeding the reach of other news sources, such as online news portals (43 per cent), television (22 per cent), newspapers (10 per cent) and radio (6 per cent). Many expect the role and power of social media to further grow in the future, with 24 per cent of young Emiratis saying social media will be one of the greatest drivers of global change over the next 50 year, on par with climate change (25 per cent).

Renewable energy is a top career choice

Renewable energy is seen by the UAE’s youth as one of the top industries to pursue a career in and is also seen as a major driver of positive change. Nearly two among three (62 per cent) young Emiratis would be interested in pursuing a career in renewable energy, surpassed only by the interest in the technology industry (66 per cent), and preferred more than careers in healthcare, aviation (52 per cent each), education (50 per cent) or oil and gas (47 per cent). The renewable energy industry is of particular interest to Emirati students pursuing a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) programme, of whom 82 per cent would be interested in pursuing careers in the sector. Renewable energy is also seen by one in three (33 per cent) as one of the most consequential drivers of global change over the next 50 years, placing it on par with technological advancements (38 per cent), scientific advancements (35 per cent), and space exploration (34 per cent).


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