Is Saudi Arabia conquering its knowledge dream?
The Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to transform itself into a knowledge-based society have resulted in a tremendous rise in the number of institutions of higher studies focusing on science and research.
While the number of universities and colleges in the Kingdom has shot up to 333, the private sector has also been making substantial contributions for the development of science and technology. There are currently nine universities specializing in applied health sciences, engineering, computer technology and management studies, local daily reported Saturday.
The Ministry of Higher Education in a recent report said that there are 25 universities in the public sector at present. These include independent universities which have been upgraded from university branches and colleges in governorates.
The number of applied medical colleges grew to 56 in 2012 from just three in 2003 while the number of community colleges rose to 45 this year from 20 a decade ago, the report said. It put the number of colleges of education at 38.
The ministry’s present policies on restructuring the education system are in line with the Kingdom’s plan to become a full-fledged knowledge-based economy.
With this goal in mind, the ministry is striving to improve its universities to international standards besides paving the way for inventions that would enable the country to diversify its economic sources. In addition, it is developing establishments, programs and syllabi for higher education that would meet the local job market requirements besides promoting interest in scientific research, the report said.
Instead of producing more graduates in traditional specializations, the ministry’s current policy is to promote programs and specializations which are geared to the job market.
It also has plans to restructure academic programs in established universities to suit market requirements. The ministry will not allow the establishment of new colleges or departments in universities unless the specialization is in demand in the job market.
The ministry also plans to restructure and affiliate teachers’ colleges and health sciences colleges to universities near them. Another plan is to encourage higher education in the private sector with a stress on market needs. It is envisaged that fresh students will undergo an orientation year to prepare them for university life, the report said.