Dubai: Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE) has awarded 86 underprivileged students from the Arab region with full scholarships for Arizona State University (ASU) to pursue their master’s degrees.
The move comes as part of the Al Ghurair Open Learning Scholars Programme (OLSP). The 86 students have been selected from a group of 353 applications, representing 13 nationalities from the Arab region, including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen.
One-third of these young Arabs are first generation university students, meaning they will be the first in their families to pursue their higher education. Most of these students are young professionals who are pursuing their master’s degrees alongside their full-time jobs and are mainly specialising in the fields of healthcare and engineering.
Making an impact
Marwa Abdo, an AGFE scholar in the UAE, has been awarded the scholarship to pursue her master’s in Health Informatics.
Marwa said, “Hopefully, upon finishing my master’s degree in Health Informatics, with my genuine desire of making all sorts of patients’ journey less painful and my communication and leadership skills, I can make a positive lasting impact here in the UAE and in our Arab world.”
Rise in applications
AGFE said its partnership with ASU enables access to online master’s degrees at a global scale through ASU Online. After providing scholarships for online programs with ASU for the past three years, the foundation has seen an increase of almost 60 per cent from last year in applications for the OLS programme.
AGFE CEO Dr Sonia Ben Jaafar said, “Nowadays, we are seeing a growing interest in online learning and a shift in perspective particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey we conducted with our scholars after the start of the pandemic found that over half of these inspiring young people are open to pursuing online learning in the future. The experience of emergency remote teaching has given them a reason to hope for better when online education is planned. The reality is that these resilient Arab youths are not going to put their educational goals on hold throughout this uncertain period – they want to learn.”
The OLSP offers a full scholarship to selected youth, including all tuition and fees until they complete their master’s degree. In addition, AGFE and ASU also offer scholars various skill-building professional opportunities and a personal enrolment coach, “success coach”, and academic advisor.
Farid Taqatqa, a recent graduate from ASU said he chose a specialisation that allows him to contribute to “an in-demand field in the UAE”.
He added, “The major I have chosen, Quality Statistics and Reliability, is unique and is not taught in the MENA region. It is based on modern techniques and tools to improve engineering process and products and can be applied to cutting-edge industries and services here in the UAE and beyond. The AGFE scholarship programme is considered a torch of hope for those who are unable to fulfil their dreams.”