Thousands of Egyptian high school graduates have been wrestling recently with the difficult decision of which university major will give them the best job prospects after graduation.
The second phase of the country’s university admissions process, called coordination, closed on Monday evening. Higher education officials announced on Saturday that 165,000 students had already registered their preferences on the coordination website.
While students and families await the results, Al-Fanar Media asked several academics for their views on the best academic disciplines that will prepare students to join the labour market.
Following are some of their suggestions.
Computing and Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is and will be one of the most sought-after disciplines in the future. It has become an integral part of the national strategies of governments around the world, including in the Arab region. Therefore, universities have designed many computing and artificial intelligence degree programmes, and have begun to hire experts in this field to qualify a new generation with the knowledge and skills it demands.
“We live in a highly digitalised world. Everything around us depends on modern technology. That’s why major international companies are in constant need of creative and talented computer scientists with full knowledge of this modern technology.”Nagwa Badr, Dean of the Faculty of Computer and Information Sciences at Ain Shams University
Nagwa Badr, dean of the Faculty of Computer and Information Sciences at Ain Shams University, says that the enrollment of new high school graduates in computing and artificial intelligence programmes has become a necessity.
“We live in a highly digitalised world,” she told Al-Fanar Media. “Everything around us depends on modern technology. That’s why major international companies are in constant need of creative and talented computer scientists with full knowledge of this modern technology.”
The field includes many specialties, she said. Among them are software engineering, information technology, cybersecurity, robotics computing, multimedia technology, bioinformatics, and smart systems. Other specialties include big data analytics, embedded systems, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, super computing, and artificial intelligence engineering.
Badr explained that Ain Shams University’s Faculty of Computer and Information Sciences, for example, offers six distinct programmes in computing, in partnership with the University of East London. Graduates of these programmes obtain a double certificate that qualifies them for the Egyptian and international labour markets.
Badr stressed the importance of robotics, a new programme in many Egyptian universities. The programmes train students in the hardware and software of various robotic systems and prepare them to put theoretical knowledge into practice to produce intelligent software applications on a large scale. The programmes also provide students with the basics of creating and programming robots that can intelligently interact with different operating environments and perform basic tasks, including navigation and decision-making.
Graduates of many types of engineering programmes are also in high demand in the labour market, said Mahmoud Abdrabou, acting president of Zewail City of Science, Technology, and Innovation.
Some of the fields most in demand are construction engineering and specialised construction, electronics and communications engineering, renewed and sustainable energy, materials engineering and manufacturing, mechatronics and industrial automation, robotics, environmental architecture and building technology, architectural design, and digital architecture.
Universities in some Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, are seeing increasing student interest in space studies, particularly after the international attention gained by an Emirati programme that put a spacecraft into orbit around Mars.
Abdrabou told Al-Fanar Media that students who want to study engineering should choose a well-known university whose programmes offer highly qualified professors and practical training opportunities. They should also make sure that the institution they are about to join has obtained accreditation and certifications of its academic quality, he said.
Space Sciences, Communications and Navigation
The world benefits greatly from space technology, particularly in terms of strengthening communication infrastructures, managing disasters, protecting the environment, and managing natural resources.
Universities in some Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, have seen increasing student interest in space studies, particularly after the international attention gained by the Emirati programme that put a spacecraft into orbit around Mars.
This field includes three main study programmes: astronautics, space sciences, and space communications. Graduates will find job opportunities in many areas. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics describes space science careers as “a universe of options”.
Potential employers include space agencies, meteorological authorities, organisations that use remote sensing and earth observation space technologies, ministries of communication, higher education and scientific research centres, and airports and civil aviation authorities, among others.
Commerce and Business Administration
Job opportunities for graduates of degree programmes in commerce and business administration are also expected to grow.
Ashraf Hussein, president of King Salman International University, in Egypt, says these programmes qualify graduates to work in the competitive international market. He urges students to study an academic major that can enable them to establish their own business after graduation.
He told Al-Fanar Media that there are several distinct programs in this field: digital economy, entrepreneurship, business informatics and digital transformation, logistics and supply chains, business intelligence, and analysis systems.
Applied Health Science Technology
These new curricula include medical laboratory technology, radiology and medical imaging technology, prosthetics and prosthetic devices technology, optics technology, psychotherapy techniques, dental technology, and functional rehabilitation.
Hospitality and Tourism
This academic program is available in several Egyptian universities, and includes several branches of study, including restaurant management, customer service, and tourist guidance.
Graphic Design, Visual Effects and Animation
Given the rapid developments in communication technology and companies’ need to increase their digital presence, graphic design has become a sought-after job. Employment of graphic designers is expected to grow over the next decade, though at a modest rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, new students with this major on their wish lists will find programmes offered by more than one university.
Jobs for students skilled in visual effects and animation are also growing, especially in the entertainment industry. Studying animation and other cinematic arts could enhance graduates’ job opportunities locally and internationally, given the growth of the entertainment industry in Arab countries and around the world.