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S. Bouktif1, M.A. Serhani1, A. Benharraf2

2Abu Dhabi University (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
The highly qualified labour market in United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a great demand for technical degrees compared to other disciplines. Consequently, the amount of engineering graduates needs to increase. In particular, software development technologies play an essential role for supporting everyday activities, as well as sustaining the UAE growing economy. Therefore preparing competent software engineers for technical design, decision-making, and responsibility is critical. Like other universities, this preparation takes from four to five years in UAE University. For this reason, software engineering professors have to take into account the evolution of the software technologies as well as the market needs in the future. Unfortunately, in many universities over the world, this need is not considered in their software engineering programs. This anomaly is well studied twice by Lethbridge in 1998 and 2005 when he surveyed software engineering professionals and concluded that a set of curriculum materials was seen as being not only useless but no longer valid.
On the other hand, in order to improve their software engineering programs many universities call a number of accreditation organizations to provide them with curriculum guidance and accreditation standards and criteria. Like other engineering programs, software engineering one must demonstrate that graduates have the ability to analyze, design, verify, implement, apply, and maintain software systems.
These are two different ways of ensuring the quality of Software Engineering education. The first one is focusing on the evaluation of graduates’ knowledge with respect to its usefulness in the industry. The second way tries to ensure the quality of the learning process towards the production of competent software engineers.

UAE University is undergoing a process of accreditation conducted by Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology ABET

Inspired by Lethbridge finding, we conduct a study of both the software engineering curriculum in UAE University and software engineering labour market needs in UAE. In this study, we measure the gap between the curriculum materials and the UAE market needs. We show that the software engineering education in UAE University must reduce such a gap and anticipate new problems and technologies. We propose that curriculum has to be validated with respect to the current and future market needs. Since changes in the discipline cannot be completely anticipated, future software engineers in UAE must be able to assume responsibility for their own continuing professional development. From process point of view learning has to be guided by the enduring principles of the software engineering field in the context of the best current practice.
The contributions and novelties of this work can be summarized as follows:
- Study and validation of software engineering curriculum materials with respect to market needs.
- Measurement of the gap between curriculum materials and market needs
- Proposition of a set of guidelines and directives to reduce gap between education and market need based on both graduates’ knowledge and learning process qualities.