Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 November 2019

More than 400 students graduate from top UAE university

Some post-graduates from Khalifa University described job market conditions as tough

Students at Khalifa University's graduation ceremony at Emirates Palace. Leslie Pableo / The National
Students at Khalifa University's graduation ceremony at Emirates Palace. Leslie Pableo / The National

More than 400 students have graduated from Khalifa University at a ceremony at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Electrical engineers with bachelor degrees as well as those with doctorates in artificial intelligence packed out the venue on Sunday.

In a series of interviews with The National, some graduates described their efforts at finding jobs after completing their studies as tough going.

But others said they were already in full employment, with their degree from one of the country's top universities proving an invaluable asset.

“I think it’s been difficult for engineers to find jobs,” said Heba Tariq, 23, a Pakistani student who studied electrical engineering at Khalifa University.

Heba Tariq, one of the university's new graduates. Leslie Pableo / The National
Heba Tariq, one of the university's new graduates. Leslie Pableo / The National

“The industry is improving right now, and there are more opportunities than there used to be but, it is a challenge to get noticed.”

Khalifa University was ranked second in the country according to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020, beaten only by UAE University in Al Ain.

Globally, the university was ranked in the top 400 institutions, according to the same survey.

Ms Tariq revealed it had taken her seven months of committed searching to find work as a graduate engineer at an oil and gas service company.

But she encouraged her contemporaries to remain upbeat, emphasising that they should be “proactive, approach people and constantly keep learning".

“For this job, I applied in February and only started work in October," she said. “Many of my peers did not get offers they liked and opted to complete their master’s studies.”

Khalifa University’s engineering and technology programmes are ranked top in the UAE and second in the broader Mena region.

Abdula Fawzy, 23, from Jordan, revealed he had completed his bachelors in electrical and computer engineering.

The graduate said he was now focusing on a master’s in engineering, with a particular focus on artificial intelligence.

“I know the current job market is not doing well for fresh graduates,” he said. “I read some companies are looking for master’s graduates and I wanted to improve my job options.

“It is not easy to get a nice job with good pay. There is a lot of competition.”

A survey in May of more than 450 UAE graduates conducted by Oliv, a Dubai recruitment agency, found some employers in the Emirates were looking beyond grades when hiring new recruits.

More than 50 per cent of respondents said they had secured jobs prior to graduating, suggesting firms were less concerned about exam marks.

Additionally, 43 per cent of students said they were confident they would find work locally within a year of graduating.

On Sunday, graduates packed in to the Emirates Palace Hotel to celebrate their special day. Their proud families looked on as university officials acknowledged their hard work and dedication.

Abdalla Al Maeeni, 24, an Emirati student who completed his bachelors in petroleum engineering, said he was hoping to find work in the government sector.

Ahmed Al Zaabi also graduated on Sunday. Leslie Pableo / The Nationa/
Ahmed Al Zaabi also graduated on Sunday. Leslie Pableo / The Nationa/

He claimed higher salaries and more secure employment had shaped his thinking. He also believed a government sector role would allow him the opportunity to complete from fieldwork.

"My interest is to work in the field and not in the office,” he said. “I want to work in the public sector as this will allow me to get this experience.

"If I join the private sector, I won’t get the chance to do field work."

Ahmed Al Zaabi, 23, an Emirati from Sharjah, said he had finished his four-year bachelors in petroleum engineering and had already found a job in the government sector.

"I chose to work in the government sector because I think the benefits are higher than in the private sector,” he said.

“The main [benefit] is that the job is more secure than in the private sector.”

Updated: October 20, 2019 04:42 PM

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