The pursuit of higher education is increasingly intertwined with the demands of the workforce, and balancing work commitments with academic endeavours can be challenging for students. Recognising this challenge, in August 2023 the Sharjah government authorised the University of Sharjah to implement a hybrid education model, with the aim of making higher education more accessible to working students. Hybrid education combines traditional in-person classes with online learning, offering students greater flexibility in managing their schedules and coursework. Under the new model – announced by Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, ruler of Sharjah, in April 2023 – an eligible working student has to be at the university for only one day per week for each course, compared to the three-day requirement under the previous model.


The hybrid education model offers numerous advantages. First, it provides working students with the flexibility to create personalised schedules that accommodate both their work and academic responsibilities. This flexibility empowers students to progress in their education without compromising their careers. Moreover, the hybrid model promotes a healthy work-life balance, reducing the stress and burnout that working students may be susceptible to. The move also contributes to enhancing the accessibility of higher education for a broader demographic. Students who may have previously considered higher education unattainable due to their job commitments may now be in a position to pursue their academic goals while maintaining a source of income. Increased access to higher education aligns with the UAE’s vision for a knowledge-based economy, by allowing a greater number of individuals to acquire the skills and qualifications required by the job market.

Additional Support

Hybrid education is not the only measure taken in the UAE and Sharjah to support working students. In June 2023 the federal Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation introduced tailored job contracts for students, in collaboration with the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council. Under this system, students are encouraged to take up parttime work in their field of study. The initiative not only helps students gain practical experience but also offers financial support as they continue their education.

Hybrid education and job contracts for students offer a far-reaching impact on the workforce. By aligning education with workforce demands, students may be better prepared for their careers, helping them to become valuable assets for potential employers. The result is a workforce that is not only academically qualified but also equipped with practical experience.

The University of Sharjah and the American University of Sharjah, among others, provide opportunities for enrolled students to engage in part-time work on campus. The University of Sharjah’s Student Employment Programme, managed by the Career Advising and Student Training Office, empowers students to work in a variety of roles. These range from assisting in administrative departments to contributing to sustainability initiatives. Similarly, the American University of Sharjah offers a work-study programme that allows eligible students to gain valuable work experience and income while pursuing their studies. These programmes not only benefit students by enhancing their CV and fostering practical skills but also create a readily available workforce and thereby align with university objectives.

Sharjah is at the forefront of redefining education and workforce development with its innovative hybrid education model and the adoption of student employment contracts. The emirate’s commitment to enhancing access to higher education, supporting working students and aligning graduate proficiencies with real-world demands underscores its dedication to nurturing a competitive workforce. This strategic investment in education and labour force development positions Sharjah as an attractive destination both for the UAE’s working students and the broader workforce.