Dubai College has enjoyed over thirty-eight years in existence and is undisputedly a class act when it comes to their alumni association. Alumni associations play a key role in the continuity process of schools, as the alumni are often a testament to the standard of education that their alma mater offers.
Mr Peter Hill, former Headmaster of Dubai College and Mrs Debra Harding, Headmaster’s Assistant & Alumni Coordinator share some of the ways in which the Dubai College Alumni supports the current student body.
Bernie O’Connor and Ian Brooks are credited with starting the Dubai College Alumni Association (DCAA). After leaving school they invited 40 former sixth form students to meet them at the Hard Rock Café in London on December 2, 1989. The invitation was spread via word of mouth and led to a largely successful meeting between past students and teachers of Dubai College. This started the tradition of the annual Dubai College reunion and since then there has been an alumni reunion in London every year for the past 26 years.
The DCAA provides a network for former teachers and students to keep in touch. The alumni group has become increasingly active in the college life, supporting the sporting calendar, the sixth form programme and offering careers advice. Members of the Alumni have also been integral to the success of the Journeys programme, giving sixth form students an insight into life after senior school.
This is often facilitated through thoroughly planned and executed events, which include dinners, luncheons and other social activities.
“We try to offer an after care service to our students which begins the year after they leave. We invite former students along to a big event in december when they are back visiting Dubai after their first term at university. This is dubbed a ‘Past Vs. Present Sports Afternoon.’ After the sports afternoon, there is a social, which involves everyone,” Mrs Harding explains.
An additional activity is the year 11 convention, where alumni who are back working in Dubai visit the school and speak with the year 11s on their career path and offer general advice.
Mrs Harding continues, “more recently we have introduced a business focussed dinner for year 13 students. We look at the post popular career choices and then invite experts from our alumni to come to a business dinner. The students are asked to come dressed in business attire. This event allows students to have a somewhat personalised experience where they can ask questions and receive advice on the best way to proceed as well as network for the future. The event also allows our Alumni members to ‘talent spot’ very able students for future internships and employment.”
An increase in the number of alumni in the UK and US has resulted in organising a new event, which specifically targets students who are in year two and three at university and recent university graduates who are already employed. The graduates are asked to speak with those who are currently at university and need advice on internships or how to pursue their own career path. This networking event was held in London.
“Our older alumni offer assistance via e-mentorship to students on university choices. The school has a Journey’s programme where alumni return to speak with sixth form students about life experiences. We ask them to talk about failure as well as successes, so students see that failure is also a part of life. This helps them to learn how to deal with failure so they don’t end up overwhelmed after having enjoyed significant success at some point,” adds Mr Hill.”
“Our alumni also help with the work- shadowing programme for older students. In April, Dubai College hosted a global alumni development conference. this conference attracted schools from Asia, Africa and Europe. Experts from all over the world presented on the importance of alumni engagement and how to develop that structure in the future.”
Most students stay seven years and most staff on average 8 years at Dubai College. This creates an environment of stability that caters fully to students. New parents are orientated on the after care service when they bring their children in.
“When our students leave school, DC is still engaged with them on the transition to university and their jobs,” comments Mr Hill, “Dubai College is a long-standing, trusted institution within Dubai.”
Naturally, Dubai College has noted a trend over the years that involve alumni returning to teach and to enrol their children.
Added to this, there is the Friends of Dubai College (FDC), which consists of parents, former students, teachers and friends within the wider community. The FDC meets with the principal once per month and are instrumental in carrying out a number of fundraising projects to support the school. Both the DCAA and FDC work together in making valuable contributions to the school community.
What distinguishes DC from many schools in Dubai is that they continue to enjoy a great 38-year history as a reputable and trusted institution. Their huge pool of alumni in the UAE, the UK and the US, enhance the success and stability of the school.