Higher Education in Saudi Arabia: The Way It Works

Higher Education in Saudi Arabia
Image Source: www.kau.edu.sa

Standing on the pinnacle of growth with economy proliferating at a rapid rate, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the most lucrative options for leading a comfortable life in every aspect. Right from the best employment options in its booming economic spheres, to a multitude of opportunities for those looking forward to pursue higher education, the KSA has always looked forward to harbor expatriates and talented individuals from all around the globe.

The article below will build on the same line of thought and discuss regarding the higher education system in Saudi Arabia. Give it a glance to gain a better insight before you’re on your flight to this exotic kingdom.

The Universities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Post its entry into the era of globalization in the early 1970s, higher education became a focus for the Saudi regime to shape the economy in the most efficient way. Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) was established in the year 1975, with the foremost objective to incept institutions to serve the same purpose throughout the kingdom. Consequently, as of 2014 there are 25 public and private universities in Saudi Arabia.

These are coupled with numerous vocational institutes and private colleges to facilitate higher education for the aspirants in every way possible. These universities provide undergraduate and post-graduate courses in most of the disciplines renowned, all around the world.

With nearly 1 million students being enrolled in the universities and colleges in Saudi Arabia, the education scenario in the country is booming with high thrust. These provide specialized courses for students to get into specific domains in most of the niche industries.

The oldest one being King Saud University, situated in Riyadh. Today this university is home to nearly 65,000 students pursuing degree courses at the faculties of science, commerce, arts, dentistry, engineering, art, nursing, computer science, education and many more.

However, the largest university in the country is King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, with more than 70,000 students enrolled within different career related avenues it offers. Being initially found as a private university, the rapid growth it witnessed lured the regime into taking over its operations in the year 1971.

Other prominent ones include:

  • The Islamic University (Madinah), which is quite renowned for its Islamic courses and graduates from more than 100 countries.
  • The Eastern Province’s King Faisal University, offering a range of programs in medicine, architecture, agricultural and veterinary sciences, with its campus in Dammam.
  • King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran
  • Princess Nora Bint Abdulrahman University-the largest university for women on the globe, having nearly 52,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

The Structure of Higher Education in the Kingdom

Like most of the countries in the Middle East, the modern higher education system in the country is quite young. Approximately 63% of the public universities have been created in the last 15 years, and only 3 or 4 are more than 50 years old. Owing to a multiple historical reasons, Saudi universities tend to follow the American model in terms of organizing the curriculum, language used for instruction (both English and Arabic) and the structure of institution.

The degree structure in Saudi higher education is also majorly similar to that in the U.S.
The bachelor’s degree at universities are mostly four-year programs, though fields such as architecture, pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, agriculture and law demand a five to six years study.

Graduate courses are usually observed to feature a two-year master’s and an additional three in case of a PhD. However, some specialty schools like technical colleges might also offer a two-year diploma or a three-year bachelor’s course.

The Ministry of Higher Education, founded in 1975 is the top administrative body responsible for the implementation of directives and policies of higher echelon of the government in the kingdom. A number of councils, centers and other departments have been established by the ministry to enact various policies and ensure compliance with the monarchy. In addition to all this, the MoHE has also proven to be quite instrumental in the creation of Saudi Center for Research Excellence (SCORE). Around 15 of these, identified by the ministry are established in order to promote research fields like engineering, biotechnology, petroleum refining and renewable resources. The regime directs assessment, funding and management to these centers.

With modernized policies and reforms in the field of education, Saudi Arabia offers all that one demands to be efficiently qualified today. It’s just about undergoing a modicum of research and taking decision under the right guidance. Rest will fall in place by itself.