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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

Computer science and psychology are in-demand subjects for students in UAE

The prospect of studying the minds of a multicultural population and working in the tech jobs of the future attract the interest of young people

Shyamala Elango, admissions officer at Inner Universe, says many students are now opting for a career in computer sciences. Reem Mohammed / The National
Shyamala Elango, admissions officer at Inner Universe, says many students are now opting for a career in computer sciences. Reem Mohammed / The National

The “human factor” that is key to healthy life and success in work is at the heart of a new psychology course at a UAE university.

Canadian University Dubai, where the head of the course said the UAE is an “exciting backdrop” for study, has introduced a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Dr Stefane Mostefa Kabene said psychologists will play an important role in helping businesses to evaluate the leadership skills of employees and help with recruitment to ensure employers hire the people with the skills for the job.

Psychology is also vital to the Government’s vision of a population that is healthy in mind as well as body, he said.

“As a young society with a high expat population and so many different cultural dimensions, the UAE presents an exciting backdrop for the study and practice of psychology,” said Dr Kabene, the programme leader.

“It is also a profession where women are very well represented and so holds great potential to strengthen the female workforce.”

He said the Canadian University Dubai curriculum prepares students for becoming clinical psychologists, but also prepares them “in everything from cultural or sports psychology to educational or industrial psychology”.

“Clinical and child psychology are popular all around the world, but especially in the UAE,” said Dr Kabene.

Forensic psychology is also in high demand, while industrial, organisational and business psychology are needed by businesses and other organisations to assess the human factors at work in leadership, management, recruitment, and performance assessment roles.

“Psychology is one of the popular specialisations that attracts students who plan to have a career in which understanding the behaviour of humans is a key element,” said Dr Kabene. “Holders of a bachelor’s degree in psychology can pursue their studies to become a social worker, teacher, or a certified psychologist.

Dr Kabene, who has work in psychology and focused on leadership and management for a quarter of a century, said the UAE is one of the world’s fastest changing societies. “As such, the need for psychologists to help in the transitions and change accepting is important.”

The demand for psychology courses follows trend where students are leaving traditional subjects such as engineering and computer sciences behind.

With the rise of artificial intelligence, computer science presents many opportunties for students.

QS World University Ranking, an independent body which evaluates global university performance, found that engineering was the most popular subject among their readers globally last year with computer science and information systems coming in second.

Shyamala Elango, director of education consultancy, Inner Universe, said that many students are also opting for computer science and related fields.

“Computer science is the biggest option. We find our biggest student numbers there. Accounting and finance is the second biggest area. Engineering is still popular and medicine and law come after that,” said Ms Elango.

“Economics has picked up substantially and this is because people are able to relate the principles of economics with what is happening in the world.”

She said the popularity of economics is connected deeply with the political and economic shifts the world is witnessing.

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Ameerah Parvez, a student at Gems Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis said that of her peers, business, engineering, and science and maths subjects are still popular.

“This is being encouraged by the emphasis our learning placed on the rise of technology, and how this may influence one’s career in an ever-changing future,” said Ms Parvez.

Stuart Walker, head of Gems World Academy Dubai said that cultural issues play a role in determining the subjects children study.

“Asian parents still want their children to do medicine, law and accounting. We work to ensure that the child goes to the right course for them and understand what they’re passionate about.

“You get a lot of parents who just want to ensure their child to go to Harvard or Oxford. Ivy league is all that they are interested in. In some cases, those universities are not the best fit for those students. We try to make sure they get to their best choice university,” said Mr Walker.

Computer science, global politics and psychology are attracting many students at the school.

In 2017, Times Higher Education found that in UK, the most popular courses for female undergraduate students were those related to medicine and the second most popular choice was business and administration subjects.

The most popular course chosen by male first-year undergraduates were business related subjects and the second most popular course was engineering.

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