Awareness and perceptions of available Major programs by first year Zayed University students

David J Gallacher, Angela Skuba, Roudha Al Bahri


In recent years there has been a large increase of Higher education options in the United Arab Emirates.  Emirati school leavers must choose among newly established institutions that provide unproven qualifications, at the same time as their society undergoes a rapid transformation.  Online surveys were administered to first (n = 407) and second (n = 188) semester female Emirati students in the Zayed University general education program, to investigate entering student awareness and perceptions of the seven majors available.  Respondents indicated they were motivated by a desire to learn, and had selected their institution for its high academic standards.  Half thought they had already decided their major, and while most felt they had made the decision themselves, they were influenced mostly by their immediate family members.  Business was ranked highest for potential salary and job availability, and was second only to International Studies for potential social status.  All other majors effectively compete with Business for students.  Student awareness of Health Sciences and International Studies lagged behind other majors, indicating a need for promotion and/or rebranding.  Respondents expressed a clear desire for the introduction of Engineering, Medicine and Law to the course offerings.

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