Why Are Online Post Graduate Courses Gaining Popularity In The UAE?

‘Ambitious’ senior level executives are fuelling the growth of online courses, writes Dr Alan Southern, director of e-learning at the University of Liverpool.

Since 2009, demand for the University of Liverpool’s online masters and doctoral degree programmes has risen by 243 per cent in the United Arab Emirates. What is fuelling this growing demand for online education in the Gulf and further afield?

Business is clearly becoming more global. In the aftermath of the economic downtown, companies across the globe have inevitably looked to the Middle East for opportunities. So too have professionals who want to develop their careers in an attractive and potentially lucrative environment. Add in to the mix a high proportion of expatriates, already working in the UAE, and what we have is a hot bed for global living and learning.

We are seeing this reflected in a growing demand for executive level education offered online that allows senior managers and ambitious professionals to develop their skillset, keep an edge on colleagues and expand their knowledge of the truly global markets they now operate in.

Over 70 per cent of the University of Liverpool’s online students living in the UAE hail from elsewhere in the Middle East, as well as a range of African, South Asian and European countries. For some years now, we have been seeing that expats are keen to enhance their knowledge and skills while working abroad.

The trend of studying while working mirrors the ambitions and work ethic of those in the region. Feedback from our online students has confirmed that those residing in the UAE are there to work and succeed; an obvious environment for attracting like-minded individuals.

Feedback from alumni has also pinpointed the multi-cultural element of our online programmes as one of true significance and importance—an online degree offering the opportunity to share knowledge and experience with faculty and sector peers from all corners of the globe.

What many find is that similar challenges arise irrespective of country or continent. Having the ability to share views and advice, and learn from one another, is a luxury many wouldn’t get elsewhere.

The fact that there is a virtual distance between the students sometimes helps them to be more forthright and upfront with their advice and academic feedback, which many admit they might not give or share with a colleague who was closer – either in the workplace or within a normal campus-based university environment.

Many of our students are at mid and senior-level positions within large, settled corporations or have been relocated to Dubai or Abu Dhabi with a view to setting up a division of another international company.

Often they are there to take advantage of one of several boom industries but are aware that with opportunity comes competition. For many, the option of a fully online degree that allows them to study without compromising time at work is key to their decision to enrol.

In the UAE, the most popular programmes are the MBA, MSc in Project Management, MSc in international Management and MSc in Operations and Supply Chain Management, which is indicative of the fields of expertise prominent within the region.

The University of Liverpool is confident demand will continue to rise for its online programmes for as long as the UAE continues to attract ambitious senior level executives and directors to the region.