Shura calls for upgrade of universities
Council member says Saudi education system must compete for international ranking
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.