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KHALEEJ TIMES Interview with Professor Ahmad Al Ali

UAE: Aviation courses witness 15-20 per cent increase in demand this year

Emirates Aviation University offers new courses in Data Science and AI

With air travel demand rebounding post-Covid, aviation university courses in the UAE are experiencing a 15-20 percent increase in applicants this year, amid a global labour shortage in the sector.

Emirates Aviation University (EAU), a member of Dubai’s Emirates Group, received 3,000 applications for its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes for the 2024-2025 academic year significantly exceeding the pre-pandemic levels, Vice Chancellor Ahmad Al Ali announced during a media round-table on Thursday.

He said, “The old numbers projected around 10 per cent rise per year. This year we are looking at least 15-20 per cent judging by the number of applications we’ve received so far and our programmes will start in September and by then we may even have a higher percentage of student recruitment. We are the top aviation university in the region. We have many local as well as international accreditations.”

He also stressed the future of aviation employment will be influenced by advanced technology, enabling executives to analyse data and make informed decisions. The university is responding by offering new programmes in fields like artificial intelligence (AI).

“This (higher recruitment) is especially likely to happen after the launch of the very sought-after courses like the B.Sc in Data Science and AI as well as a new PhD programme in emerging fields like data science and aviation management... Any industry these days requires these skills not just the aviation industry.”

The university also has a 91 student nationalities with EAU offering online programmes and maintaining help centres available to students year-round.

“We have 40 per cent of international students (non-residents). Our biggest market for international students is Asia followed by Europe and America, the Middle East and Africa. A lot of Saudi nationals are enrolled here. We also run hybrid programmes for students. There are opportunities for scholarships as well.”

Nearly 100 percent employability

Meanwhile Ali also highlighted that almost 100 per cent of students of a particular discipline of the EAU are recruited by leading airlines around the world including the UAE’s premium career Emirates, Lufthansa, and Air Arabia among others.

450 students graduated from the university this year out of which almost all engineering students get placed almost immediately every year.

The EAU has an overall graduate employment rate of 81 per cent.

“Almost 99.9 per cent of our engineering graduates get employed by Emirates because they are trained in the hangar and they spend about four months there. They receive hands-on training not just on software. With the aviation industry growing exponentially especially after Covid, according to Boeing, there is a requirement within the Middle East of about 58,000 to 60,000 aircraft engineers and technicians. So there is really a huge shortage and that has to be filled by 2040.”

Shedding light on the broad range of aviation programmes that are taught by 85 faculty members that includes both full-time and visiting faculty, Ali explained that particularly the aviation management curriculum is designed based on the requirements and advice from the Emirates Airlines.

He said, “We learn what are the leadership levels required (in the industry), with dnata or other commercial and the national recruitment team within the Emirates group. They tell us that these are the requirements we expect from our EAU graduates. So, we build a programme without losing the accreditation of that programme. We ensure that all the requirements are met, the academic standards as well as industry standard.”

“That's why our programmes are probably one of the most successful programmes worldwide. The only competitor is Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the US but again, we offer a lot more aviation programmes. They are much bigger than us in terms of student number, but I think we are bigger in terms of aviation programmes.”

Tailored programmes

Introducing EAU’s new PhD and BA in AI and Data Science Ali emphasized that there are other programmes that have also been tailored in collaboration with the Dubai Airport police.

“We have a Master's degree in Aviation Safety and Aviation Security. Both of these programmes were built in collaboration with Dubai Airport police. We sat together for at least a couple of years before we have accredited these two programmes by the Ministry.

“I also stress that internship is very important for our students as it gives them the opportunity to use what they learn in the classroom and apply it at the workplace.”

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