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Saudi Arabia

Higher Education

Higher education for men is government administered by the Ministry of Higher Education founded in 1975. The Ministry of Higher Education authorizes both the creation of a university and the programs offered. This ministry maintains educational missions in 32 countries and has oversight for Saudi citizens pursing educational studies in foreign countries. The university system is modeled on United States system of higher education but there are influences in the Saudi educational system from the educational systems of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Egypt. Islamic values and traditions are also incorporated. The Ministry's responsibilities are to raise the level of communication and coordination between institutions of higher learning, coordinate policy with government ministries and agencies based on the nation's needs, and assist in the kingdom's continuing development. A 1993 Royal Decree formed a Supreme Council for Universities to act as a legislative coordinating body for all the universities. The Higher Education Council's responsibilities include supervising university education development, coordinating degrees and scientific departments among universities, encouraging research, and formulating rules and regulations.

A university council is responsible for educational administrative and financial affairs, implementation of university policy, and preparing budget and future development plans. A scientific council at each university encourages scientific and research studies and publications. Each college within the university has its own council charged with the responsibility to implement and carry out university policy and regulations, submit budget requests, and propose policy changes. Each department within the college has an organization paralleling that of the college and university. Higher education witnessed rapid expansion in the last three decades of the twentieth century.

King Saud University is the oldest university in Saudi Arabia, founded in 1957. It is the largest university in the kingdom. Centered in Riyadh, the capital, the university has branches in Abha and Al-Qaseem. King Saud University offered 13 colleges and enrolled 30,559 students for the academic years 1994-1995 and had a teaching staff of 2,696. King Abdulaziz University (1967) is the second largest university in Saudi Arabia. Its academic programs are similar to those at King Saud University but special emphasis is given to the fields of science, medicine, economics, humanities, and engineering. A navigational sciences program operates at the seaport of Jeddah. A teacher training program is offered at the holy city of Madinah (Medina). King Abdulaziz University has nine colleges enrolling 33,037 students with a teaching staff of 1,987 for the 1994-1995 academic years.

King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (1963) is located in Dhahran and is the nation's leading university in the study of energy and the primary center for scientific research and innovation. It offers a one-year preparatory program emphasizing English, a four-year engineering program, and is exclusively for males. There are eight colleges at King Fahd University enrolling 4,935 students with 695 faculty members (1994-1995).

The Islamic University (1961) is a traditional Islamic university located in the holy city of Madinah. It is under the direct supervision of the Council of Ministers. The university grants degrees in linguistics and Islamic Literature, Islamic Law, and Quranic Studies. This is the only university in Saudi Arabia experiencing a decline in enrollments. For the academic years 1994-1995, the Islamic University, consisting of five colleges, enrolled 3,058 students with a staff of 378. Imam Muhammed Bin Saud Islamic University (1974) includes the Scientific Institute of Riyadh and branch campuses at Madinah, Abha, and Al-Hasa with degree programs in Sharia (Islamic) Law, Usul Din (Islamic Theology), Dawa (Islamic Mission), teacher education, and Arabic language and literature. This university operates overseas locations in Mauritania, Djibouti, and the United Arab Emirates and three Arabic language institutes in Japan, Indonesia, and the United States. There are 13 colleges at this university enrolling 20,734 students in 1994-1995 academic years with a teaching staff of 1,263.

King Faisal University (1975) at Al-Hasa in eastern Saudi Arabia offers degree programs in agriculture, education, veterinary sciences and animal surgery, medicine, foreign languages, chemistry, mathematics, social sciences, and education. King Faisal University maintains a 380-bed teaching hospital and offers medical exchange programs with hospitals and medical schools overseas. King Faisal University has six colleges, a teaching staff of 727, and a student population of 5,240. Umm Al-Qura University (1980) is Saudi Arabia's newest university. It is located in the holiest city of Islam, Makkah (Mecca) and includes the nation's oldest colleges, the Sharia College (1949) and the Teachers' College (1952). In addition to its nine colleges, this university has an Arabic Institute at Taif. The university's primary focus is religion but teacher education and the sciences are strong academic programs. For the academic years 1994-1995 some 1,184 faculty taught 18,635 students.

Saudi Arabia has 11 girls' colleges. Five universities offer selective coeducational programs of study. The total female student enrollments at the higher education level number 19,582 (1994-1995) with a teaching staff of 1,186. All the girls' colleges are administered by the General Presidency of Girls' Education. Each college is separately chartered but all share common goals for instruction, research, and service. While the Supreme Council on Universities governs all the universities, the Colleges Supreme Council made up of the heads of government agencies and distinguished educators governs the girls' colleges.

King Abdulaziz University offers a two-and-a-half year program of study in earth science and geology laboratory assistants and meteorology and environmental assistants. A two-and-a-half year degree in computer and information sciences is awarded at King Saud University. All universities grant bachelor's degrees in the arts and in the sciences and offer postgraduate programs leading to the master's or Ph.D. degrees in Islamic studies, humanities, Arabic language, social sciences, education, engineering, earth science, industrial management, and social services, medicine, and dental science.

Faculty at Saudi Arabia universities and colleges are expected to earn a doctoral degree from an accredited institution. Promotion from assistant to associate professor and from associate professor to full professor is each based on four years of additional research and further study since the last degree awarded. Faculty with master's degrees can teach but are encouraged to obtain doctorates. Faculty members without doctorates after five years is expected to leave teaching and enter administration.

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Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferenceSaudi Arabia - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education