x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Students shun careers in psychology

Pupils with an interest in psychology are not pursuing it as a career because of misconceptions about the profession.

DUBAI // Pupils with an interest in psychology are not pursuing it as a career because of misconceptions about the profession.

Teachers also blame a lack of diversity in university programmes.

Heriot-Watt University and Dubai British School (DBS) held a workshop for psychology pupils from five high schools this week, at which they were challenged to apply their psychology lessons to solve problems.

"We see a dearth of education psychologists here," said Annie Crookes, head of psychology at Heriot-Watt.

Raunak Ajwani, 18, a pupil at Emirates International School who attended the workshop, said: "There is a general lack of specialists here but I wouldn't want to work here, My work won't be appreciated because people here don't like going to psychologists or getting a diagnosis. There is still a certain stigma attached to it."

A report by the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau last year underscored the absence of qualified and specialist assistance for children with learning difficulties.

"Most of the schools here are under-resourced and what happens is that unqualified individuals call themselves psychologists," said Ms Crookes.

She believes that if universities offered a broader range of courses, it would build interest.

Naomi Bell, 17, from Jumeirah College, wants to go to a UK university to study criminology and psychology. "You don't have such courses here," she said. "If I wanted to practise here, there are too many ethical issues that would hinder my opportunities."

Michael Drennan, the head of psychology at DBS, said some pupils were misinformed about the profession.

"They think psychology is easy and is basically what you read in books that dole out advice," he said. "But it's a serious discipline and has the best job prospects in many countries."

At DBS there are 15 pupils taking psychology this year but that number is expected to grow to 35 next year.

aahmed@thenational.ae