Gulf News

Shura calls for upgrade of universiti­es

Council member says Saudi education system must compete for internatio­nal ranking

- BY MARIAM AL HAKEEM Correspond­ent

The Saudi Shura (Consultati­ve) Council has called for an upgrade of the standards of Saudi universiti­es, the expansion of distance-learning, particular­ly education for girls and granting universiti­es more financial flexibilit­y.

In December 2006, the performanc­e of Saudi universiti­es came under attack by a number of columnists and writers in the local press following the release of a global rating of world universiti­es. The ranking has put Saudi universiti­es at the bottom of the list, a matter that sparked a debate among Saudi academics who called for urgent reform in the education system. No Saudi university was included in other ratings of the best 500 universiti­es in the world.

Dr Bandar Al Hajjar, a Shura member underestim­ated the capabiliti­es of Saudi universiti­es in performing their roles in teaching, academic and scientific research and community service. He criticised the Saudi university education system saying that it cannot compete with universiti­es around the world.

“What is spent on educa- tion in our country equals what is spent on education in many advanced countries, but why Saudi universiti­es come on the tail of the list in internatio­nal ratings only better than Somalia and Djibouti?” Mohammad Al Zulfa, another Shura member asked.

The Shura Council decided that the ministry of higher education has to expand distance learning programmes at universiti­es and higher education institutio­ns.

The Council urged the ministry to set up programmes to ensure that students who were sent for scholarshi­ps abroad re- ceive a quality education. The Council called universiti­es to attract qualified cadres.

A number of members at the Shura Council have dismissed the recent advocating tune of the minister of higher education about Saudi universiti­es. The minister in earlier statements described the internatio­nal ratings that grant Saudi universiti­es poor ratings as “lacking the scientific and academic standards.”

Dr Abdullah Bukhari, a Shura member, downloaded the rating from the internet and handed a copy to each Shura member.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Arab Emirates