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27th August | Dubai
As the higher education sector in the UAE continues to expand and mark a global footprint, institutions in the region are enhancing their offerings in order to ensure students passing out are well prepared to take on the challenges of the corporate sector. The Institute of Management Technology Dubai (IMT Dubai), an international business school recently reiterated its re-enforcing a culture of an industry-based curriculum, preparing students for leadership roles in their professional careers. We interacted with Dr. Francois Therin, Director, IMT Dubai for details around this and his views around the other aspects on the regions education sector and the institute’s offerings.
While placements are the final result, there is a whole load of activities that we take on within, linked to the corporate sector. These would be industry projects, internships, and industry panels and presentation. This helps lay the groundwork for students to stay in touch with corporates. It also helps the companies understand how our students behave and perform, thus leading to a full-time job offer in many cases. We also have a lot of industry speakers during our classes and beyond the classroom environment. For the last 3 years we’ve been hosting the TEDex, which becomes a platform for students to interact with speakers from various industries. Outside this, there are regular activities like career fairs and placement or internship opportunities sent from various companies across the UAE. The fact that our students are constantly exposed to the industry via speakers and industry projects is a critical step for them to get to know the job maket.
10 years may not reflect a very long lineage but it’s been enough time for us to establish a strong alumni base across industries. This works in our favor. When companies have our graduates occupying key positions and they are happy with their performance, obviously they want to come back to fill up their open positions. I’d like to say that 10 years for the UAE is a fairly long time, and we’ve gained an edge by being the first campus to be setup in Academic City.
At the moment 100% of our faculty base is international with around 2/3rd coming from India. The student base is also dominated by Indians or Indian expats at nearly 50% while the rest is an Emirati base. In fact, it would be of interest that all of our weekend programs, particularly the Executive MBA, have mostly Emirati students enrolled with professional experience of 10-20 years.
The opportunity is clear – higher education is a growing industry in the GCC region. More and more parents are keen on their children taking a higher education degree. This is particularly true for the Emirati population, as they have been seeking higher education. This has been defining the opportunity in the region for the last few years and will continue to do so in the years to come. What’s interesting now and, thanks to the Ministry of Higher Education, particularly for the accredited institutions – there is a strong focus on quality. As the quality of institutions improves, more parents are keen on having their children educated in the UAE rather than sending them abroad to the UK, or the USA. This creates lots of interesting opportunities for us. Specifically for a business school like ours, the more the economy expands, the more the opportunities in terms of companies, startups, etc. It provides us a favorable environment to develop connections and network. With Dubai rapidly moving towards establishing itself as a Smart City and Knowledge Economy, opportunities for us and our students are bound to increase in the years to come.
There are always challenges when you are aiming to grow continuously, be it quality, reach, etc. But this is more of a routine work rather than label it a challenge.
On the fee structure, we are very reasonably priced. The interesting thing here in the UAE is that, because it’s a growing market, it seems that every institution would find its own niche and price positioning. What distinguishes us amongst prospective students, parents and companies is the fact that we are an accredited institution by the Ministry of Education.
Eliana El Hage, Head of Marketing, Corporate Relations and Alumni highlights, “Our students have the option to pursue certain modules abroad. We have partnered with more than 20 global Universities allowing students to pursue a semester or a year with that University in a different country enabling them to get immersed in newer multi-cultured environments. This helps them greatly as they would work in Dubai, which of course is a multi-cultural hub.”
At the moment the main components within the same are industry projects, which allows students to take on real projects with a company. Besides this, of course there’s the internship, which is a critical aspect of higher education programs. In some of our upcoming programs, pending the accreditation from the Ministry, we are including even more time for internships. The point being, we prepare industry ready graduates. There longer the interaction with the industry, the better. Another point is something I’ve made mandatory across our faculty base – to have at least one industry speaker per course. This adds up to students interacting with anything between 10-20 industry speakers during the course of the year.
Eliana adds, “Amongst all of the student committees that we have in place, one of the strongest ones is the Corporate Relations committee. The job of the 12-13 students within this committee is to connect with people from the industry. Like this, a lot of our initiatives are students driven. This drives qualities of leadership and responsibility amongst students.”
Our career services, works along with the student groups Eliana mentioned. The Career Management Team ensures maintaining relationships with existing companies and newer ones to make sure to have them on board when it’s time for industry projects, internships or placements. They also organize a career fair once a year. We also prepare our students in soft skills such as presentations, interviews – we hold sessions such as, CV writing, presentation skills, mock interviews, etc. This happens throughout the year so students are well prepared.
The practical side in the course comes in form of industry speakers, up to date case studies, and company projects supervised by our faculty. This year we’ve signed an agreement with McGraw Hill to have access to their full library of case studies and books. McGraw Hill offers Smart Books, including within, some form of Artificial Intelligence. This will be used across all of our courses. We ensure that students are given an opportunity to apply their learnings to practical cases to make sure they learn to transfer their learnings into real life situations.
Digitization is impacting and will continue to impact all sorts of jobs. Today where we largely see this disruption is in jobs which are repetitive. These are not the jobs we normally expect our students to perform. So for now, they are protected from this. As we move towards the creeping in of Artificial Intelligence into more relevant jobs, of course it’s bound to have an impact but we need to understand that no industry change or revolution does not create opportunities. So while a revolution does bring in job losses, it also creates opportunities for newer ones. The same will be the case with the ongoing Technological Revolution. Our job as a Business School is to ensure the training students receive is relevant. One thing which is bound to help students is soft-skills where we lay emphasis. Students who know how to communicate, work in teams, collaborate on projects, be innovative, think out of the box, will be able to face any disruptive revolution of the corporate world.
About IMT Dubai
The Institute of Management Technology Dubai (IMT Dubai) is an international business school that is devoted to preparing industry ready, socially responsible and aware professionals for businesses in the Middle East and around the world. IMT prides itself on having a strong academic focus, industry collaboration, and an entrepreneurial mindset. It offers accredited undergraduate and postgraduate programs to students from a multitude of nationalities and educational backgrounds. Established in 2006, IMT Dubai is among the first International Business Schools to have set up a full-fledged campus in Dubai.
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