- Zayed University’s innovative Partner Challenge program provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge outside the classroom to a real-world challenge proposed by an industry partner
- Accenture, Coca Cola, CNBC, Goldman Sachs and the Emirates Literature Festival amongst newly confirmed partners
- 120 companies have participated in the program which can help businesses identify talent and meet their future Emiratisation targets.
Now in its fourth edition Zayed University’s Partner Challenge program continues to grow and attract new private sector partners.
The Partner Challenge program is a core component of Zayed University’s new interdisciplinary degree programs and offers a unique opportunity for students to apply their knowledge outside of the classroom to a real-world challenge proposed by an industry partner.
Undergraduate students enrolling in Zayed University choose from four pioneering interdisciplinary degree programs which are taught using pioneering active learning techniques. The new degree programs seek to nurture agile and dynamic minds and develop lateral and creative thinkers who have transferable skills and know-how to thrive in the 21st century workforce. The new programs include Business Transformation, Social Innovation, Computational Systems and Sustainability in addition to the University’s existing Arts and Creative Enterprises program.
The Partner Challenges involve students working in small teams to complete a semester or 2 long challenge. The challenges enable students to combine their academic work with professional experience and bridge theory and practice, helping prepare students for the world of work.
In total 120 companies – ranging from multinationals to SMEs – have participated in the program to date. This semester a swathe of leading international organisations including Accenture, Coca-Cola, CNBC and Goldman Sachs have joined the program and will mentor young students in the UAE. They join previous partners who have been involved in the program, including Mubadala, Injazat, G42, Emirates Development Bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank and the Dubai Future Foundation.
Feedback from the companies and mentors who participated in the second edition of the program has been overwhelmingly positive:
- 8 out of 10 mentors would recommend others join the program
- 78% of mentors said they were impressed by the amount of progress they witnessed throughout the semester
- 7 out of 10 respondents said the students exceeded their expectations.
Raj Sandhu, CEO of Bikal Tech, a UK based AI company, who participated in the second edition of the program said: “This mentoring program helped us to engage with the next generation of workers and innovators. The students and the university were able to collaborate with us, so that all benefitted from each other’s experiences.”
Mary-Alison Irvine, Project Manager for Student Services at Zayed University, said: “The Partner Challenge program is totally unique to ZU and we are delighted to see so many companies participating in this initiative. The experience of working alongside professional experts from day 1 in university is innovative in education and priceless for our students. By the time they graduate each student will have completed 5 challenges which gives them a breadth of experience across sectors and helps them build invaluable professional networks.”
Narmeen Nader Abdulla Mohamed Almarzooqi, a first-year student at Zayed University, added: “These challenges help me appreciate the problem-solving skills I will need in my future career. Incorporating these challenges into the degree programs really differentiates ZU from other universities and helps us understand how the courses we study in class translate to the real world.”
In addition to the semester long challenges, Zayed University has launched a series of Partner Challenge Sprints, which are one day hackathon style events. During the event students are guided by a private sector partner to find an innovative new solution to a problem. The most recent event took place on 17 February and involved students working on a challenge set by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs to identify ways in which they can make immigration services more accessible to visually impaired people.