How to empower students for the post-pandemic world

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When Middlesex University Dubai alumna Aafreen Farrukh was considering her university options, she was searching for a programme that would prepare her for life after graduation. As a BA Psychology with Marketing student at the UAE-based British institution, she found the combination of a quality UK degree taught in Dubai to be “truly priceless”.

“The blend of academic and extracurricular activities made it the ideal place for me to study,” said Aafreen. “With thought-provoking in-class discussions and constant events and social clubs, I was always occupied.”

With applications open for September 2021, students in the UAE and across the world are making the same crucial decision as Aafreen once did of where and what to study. The pandemic has made this even harder, especially as exams across multiple curriculums have been cancelled or postponed, and students are worried about the affordability of university when times have been difficult for many financially.

When choosing a programme, prospective students are not just considering what they will learn, but how their education will provide them with opportunities to boost their employability, develop their passions, and realise their dreams outside the classroom.

Middlesex University Dubai is leading the way for the future of education beyond the pandemic. The KHDA-rated 5-star institution has adapted its admissions process and approach to learning to alleviate students’ concerns and make it more affordable and accessible to study for a quality UK degree this September, says Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University and Director of Middlesex University Dubai.

“We’ve developed an entire 360-degree student experience and implemented a number of initiatives to ensure every high-school leaver who joins us this September gets an affordable, world-class UK education, from advantageous, inclusive scholarships and grants to personalised careers mentoring and academic support,” he explains.

We’ve developed an entire 360-degree student experience and implemented a number of initiatives to ensure every high-school leaver who joins us this September gets an affordable, world-class UK education, from advantageous, inclusive scholarships and grants to personalised careers mentoring and academic support.

– Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University and Director of Middlesex University Dubai

“No one should put their university education on hold due to factors outside their control, like the pandemic. We offer consistent guidance to help students secure their place with us according to their individual circumstances. For example, if exams are postponed or cancelled, they can receive a conditional offer letter based on predicted grades. We can also consider more than their qualifications in case these results are not as expected.”

Flexible, supportive financial initiatives

The university offers more than 12 types of scholarships and grants that cater to foundation, undergraduate and professional learners. All UAE high-school leavers studying for their undergraduate degree or the International Foundation Programme receive a 15 per cent Academic Scholarship. This means that the annual fee of studying an undergraduate degree would be just Dh47,345 per year, with additional grants available. High-achieving students are awarded an Academic Excellence Scholarship, ranging from 25 per cent to 50 per cent towards tuition fees.

For Aliya Ajmal, a BSc Psychology with HRM student, a scholarship added significant value to her academic progression. “Being able to secure a promising scholarship boosted my morale and consistently motivated me to achieve the desired grades,” she says.

The Middlesex 3-year honours degree means undergraduate students can enter the job market one year before their peers. This also helps to keep the cost of tuition down when affordability has become a critical factor for many people in deciding to take up a place at university.

Tailored careers and employability guidance

Considering today’s rapidly evolving and globally competitive job market, which has been accelerated by the pandemic, students also understand that their chosen programme needs to provide opportunities for them to nurture their employability skills and help them make in-roads in their chosen career path at every stage of their educational journey. Middlesex University Dubai puts a strong emphasis on offering its students personal career guidance and academic skill workshops, as well as health and wellbeing support and dedicated support for students of determination.

A variety of services are delivered online and in-person, depending on student preference, through the university’s Centre for Academic Success (CAS) and Careers and Employability Service (CES). Both provide specialist pastoral support for students at all study levels. CAS helps students perfect a variety of study skills relevant to their programme such as academic writing, research, and presentation skills, either through one-to-one sessions or larger workshops. CES focuses on providing career counselling and information about internships and employment opportunities. It also manages the university’s industry partnerships with employers in a diverse range of sectors, which include global names such as Deloitte, Microsoft and Edelman.

BA Accounting and Finance student Natasha Hasmitha Fernandes considers CES as “very approachable”. Natasha says they “played an important role” in mentoring her and supported her in developing a range of career skills, such as CV building, building a LinkedIn portfolio, and preparing for interviews. She secured a number of work experience opportunities through the university’s student vacancy portal, including roles as a Junior Accountant and HR Assistant, which broadened her “workplace understanding, multitasking abilities and interpersonal skills”.

Natasha also found the Campus Careers Fair invaluable when it came to finding an internship: “I was able to secure an interview with multiple potential employers. I now am proud to be working at the e-commerce giant Talabat.”

Recent events organised by CAS and CES were well received and very successful, providing students with a platform to build their networks with prominent UAE and international employers and improve their sector expertise. At a recent virtual Career Day for graphic design students, 12 students showcased their portfolios to the employers in attendance and heard first-hand about internship and employment openings.

Lively student activities calendar

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Middlesex University Dubai’s 10 sports clubs and 17 cultural societies help to round out the varied student experience on offer and provide students with an outlet to relax and celebrate achievements outside the classroom. As an undergraduate, Nicole Jessica Guinto Hayes, who studied BA International Tourism Management, improved her running and “won multiple awards for the University”. Leena Nimer Al Attal, who studied on the International Foundation Programme and then progressed to the BA Early Childhood Studies, joined the charity society Club Impact, which allowed her to “connect with like-minded people”.

Students are also encouraged to suggest and set up their own clubs and take part in external initiatives and competitions according to their interests. Dr Fernandes explains: “A core part of our approach to learning is ensuring students can develop their own passions and apply knowledge and skills learned during their programme in real-life contexts. I am always pleased to hear stories of our students’ achievements – for example, three media students graduated from the first CNN Academy this year and three fashion design students secured the top three places in Fashion Revolution UAE’s sustainable fashion competition.”

Open, encouraging well-being support

Supporting the physical and mental health wellbeing of all students and staff has always been of top priority for Middlesex, but with the onset of the pandemic and subsequent transition to online learning last year, the topic has grown in rapid importance across the university. The MDX Wellness Office is on hand to provide dedicated pastoral guidance and works with all departments to prioritise the wellbeing of the student and academic community.

The university has been running an ongoing series of virtual events to encourage open conversation and keep the student and faculty community engaged around mental health and wellbeing during the ongoing pandemic. The latest webinar for students saw faculty and student support counsellors provide advice and tips on the wellness resources available, healthy social media habits, and managing stress and anxiety.

Middlesex University Dubai is committed to helping students prepare for their future with a quality UK degree. “We offer a student experience like no other,” says Dr Fernandes. “By opening our innovative programmes to more people this September, we want to ensure our students have the tools to prepare for the post-pandemic world, regardless of their background.”

Find out more about studying for a quality UK degree with Middlesex University Dubai this September 2021 here or by connecting with the Admissions teams via WhatsApp on +971 54 444 1260.