More than two thirds of the region’s professionals, 67%, believe that pursuing a higher education programme is crucial for career advancement, according to the latest poll series conducted by the Middle East’s number one job site, Bayt.com. Of these, 57% agreed that it was very crucial, with the remaining 10% stating it was crucial. Only 8% said that they do not believe higher education is important for career development.
Professionals surveyed were asked what role they believe a higher education degree plays in securing a promotion. Almost a third of those polled, 31%, believe that holding a higher education degree gives a working professional in the Middle East a better chance to a quicker promotion. Interestingly, a relatively high 28% said that a higher education degree does not play a role in promotion, unless it is backed with the relevant career experience. Another 18% of respondents said that performance and hard work are what matter most when it comes to job promotion, while 16% said that it depends on the nature of the position and the employee his/herself.
The ‘Importance of higher education in the Middle Eastern Workplace’ December-March online poll series conducted by Bayt.com sought to understand from the region’s professionals what role they believe higher education plays in their career advancement, what their personal concerns or preferences are in terms of higher education and what the region’s employers are doing to support/ encourage their staff’s pursuit of higher education.
“Despite the general belief held by the region’s professionals that higher education is important for promotion, professionals polled who have colleagues currently undertaking, or planning to pursue, a higher education programme, are relatively few,” said Amer Zureikat, Regional Manager at, Bayt.com. “For the most part, less than 10 per cent of the respondents’ colleagues were actively pursing or planning to pursue higher education as agreed by 46% of respondents.” Another 16% of respondents said that between 10 and 20 per cent of their colleagues are considering higher education; while at the other end of the spectrum, 8% of those polled said that more than 90 per cent of their colleagues were planning to purse a higher education programme.
When asked if they were personally planning to purse a higher education programme in the next 12 months, more than half, 51%, said that they are, with just 9% of respondents stating that they are not. A third of the respondents, 33%, said that it depends on certain factors such as their financial situation and the status of their job while another 7% were stated they are still undecided.
The polls went on to ask the respondents about the actual logistics of undertaking a higher education programme. Asked where they would consider doing a programme, the USA emerged as a preferred location, with 29% of respondents stating they would travel there, closely followed by 27% of respondents who said they would travel to the UK. Furthermore, another 23% of respondents said they would rather pursue a higher education programme in their country of residence. 14% of professionals polled stated that they would travel elsewhere around the world; and only 7% said they would travel to another country in the Middle East.
The respondents were largely divided as to how they would fund a course of higher education: the largest bulk of respondents, 39%, would rely on their own savings. Other popular funding choices include applying for a bursary with 16% stating this is how they would fund their education, followed by 15% of respondents who said they would apply for a bank loan, and 14% who said they would be funded by their family. Less popular choices were company and college loans: just 6% said they would take a company loan, and 5% said they would secure a college loan.
“What the poll shows is that while many would like to pursue higher education, it seems that many would prefer to actually have the money to do it, rather than have to rely on borrowed funds,” stated Zureikat. “There could be many different reasons for this: it may be symptomatic of the recession and people’s reluctance to take on debt, or it may be that professionals have been saving specifically for this purpose - to better their career and themselves through higher education.”
Asked what the major concerns are about pursuing a course of higher education and the respondents largely agreed that not being able to finance it was the biggest worry with 38% of those polled agreeing. Another 13% were concerned about losing their job, 10% about being unable to make good use of their education upon graduation, and another 9% said they were concerned about having to travel abroad to complete their higher education. Interestingly, 21% of the respondents said that it was a combination of all these factors.
Finally, when the professionals polled were asked if their organizations support or encourage employees to pursue higher education, more than half of those polled, 51%, replied that this is not the case . Just 20% of those surveyed said that their organizations allow flexible timings for part time students, while 18% of those polled said that it depends. Another 5% of those polled said that their organizations allow unpaid leave for professionals wishing to pursue higher education abroad, and another 5% said their organizations offer to cover part or full tuition of their employees’ higher education programme.
Bayt.com’s monthly polls aim to shed light on various aspects of the region’s workplaces, by polling professionals working right in the heart of various industries around the region. “Higher education is a topic that many of the Middle East’s professionals think about to better themselves and further their careers. By conducting polls such as these, which reveal the opinions and the concerns that the region’s employees have, it offers an interesting insight into the region’s human resources marketplace and provides organisations and other industry stakeholders with relevant data that may be used as an impetus for change in certain practices,” concluded Zureikat.
Data for the ‘Importance of higher education in the Middle Eastern workplace’ poll series was collected online between 28 December 2009 and 2 March 2010, with a total of 19,305 job seekers from across the Middle East.