UNIVERSITY EDUCATION AND ACADEMIC RESEARCH IN SAUDI ARABIA-SOME FACTS
HIGHER EDUCATION IN SAUDI ARABIA
ACADEMIC RESEARCH IN SAUDI ARABIA AND OBSTACLES TO ACHIEVE EFFICIENCY IN RESEARCH PRODUCTIVITY
Having abundance in natural resources is not the only assets a country have. Real assets are the people of a country. Investing on people would generate higher returns in the future. The Saudi government is keen to invest on its people, since it is predicted that the country would lose its oil resources within a time spam of few years (Onsman, 2011). Apart from primary and secondary education, the higher education/university education contributes a lot in the development of a country. Universities are places which provide multilateral services to the people. Along with providing education and incentives for research, it also plays its role in providing guidelines to the individuals (Al-Gindan, Al-Sulaiman, Muhanna, & Abumadini, 2002). Competiting other countries of the world on the educational basis requires that country invest a handsome part of its spending on research and development activities.
Globalization has paved its way in almost every sector of the economy. Now not only goods are being traded worldwide, rather globalization along with advanced technologies has made the trade in services much easier and faster. Like other services (financial services, medical services, legal services), educational services are also being traded globally. Relying on the abundance of natural resources would not give any country a strong and recognized position in the world. In the modern world of advanced technologies, higher education, abundance of research activities, a country cannot survive without investing on the education of its people. The government of Saudi Arabia is also trying to make its education level compatible with the world standards. Along with primary and secondary education, making spending on higher education of students will definitely, pave the way for growth and development in the country.
The importance of higher education cannot be denied in any respect. As primary education is the initial stage of the development of one's personality, university education furnishes the personality and character of individuals and mould the generation of a country into remarkably shinning future of a country. Universities enrich and extend human knowledge and understanding of the different issues of life.
Researchers have also highlighted the importance of higher education in the economic development of a country. It is considered as a major player of economic development. In order to remain competitive in the world, countries should invest in the university education and should take some useful steps in order to enhance the efficiency of quality of education and research projects (Sampson, 2003). Researchers have also concluded that academic research is considered as a backbone of human activity, in the way that it improves quality of life by knowing different aspects of life and creating curiosity in the individual to learn more and more (Alzahrani, 2011).
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY:
The objective of the study is to analytically see the situation of research activities in the public universities of Saudi Arabia. The study, after thorough review of the literature on university education and research activities in Saudi Arabia, will fulfill the following objectives;
How research and teaching methods can become efficient in term of productivity? What steps should be taken by the government in order to make research activities productive and efficient?
Why the levels of research productivity are low in Saudi Arabia? What are the factors that hinder the development of research activities in the public universities of the Saudi Arabia?
FRAMEWORK OF THE STUDY:
After introducing the importance of university education and research activities, the objectives of the study are broadly defined above. The next part of the study is based on the facts and figures on the university education system of Saudi Arabia, the research activities that took place in the country and how government is helping the researchers to carry the research activities in the country. After that a detailed literature review is to be discussed, which is followed by the in depth critical analysis of the performance of public universities in Saudi Arabia and research incentives provided by the government to its people. In the end a conclusion is drawn along with some policy implications.
UNIVERSITY EDUCATION AND ACADEMIC RESEARCH IN SAUDI ARABIA-SOME FACTS:
Saudi Arabia has 25 universities in 2012, having high potential and capacity to educate and build the new generation of the country. The Ministry of higher education is responsible for the supervision and planning of the universities' issues. However universities are given independence in dealing their own academic and administrative issues by their own (MOHE, 2012).
The Ministry of Higher Education is very much enthusiastic to support the research activities of the universities. Specialized research institutions and centers have been developed. Regular conferences and symposiums are arranged by the Ministry, in order to create the importance of research and development among its people and to indulge enthusiastic students and teachers in the fields of academic research activities.
Saudi Arabia has more than 24,000 schools and also huge number of colleges and technical training institutions are present in the country. The country has 24 government universities, 10 of which are inaugurated within last few years. 18 primary school teacher's colleges for males, 12 primary school teacher's colleges for females and 26 private universities and colleges are servicing the educational need of the Saudi people. The public education system provides free education, books and health services to the students. 25% of the total budget of the country is allocated to education. About U.S. $13.17 billion is spent on education and research activities in the country.
The progress of any country depends on its people. The development of an economy can be achieved only through investing on the human resources. In addition to school education, higher education plays a vital role in developing the future of a country, by molding its people into highly skilled professionals (Pappas & Eckart, 1997). Like many other countries, Saudi government is also trying hard to invest on the education of its people and to create a sense in them that oil resources will be finished one day. Relying on the natural resources only, is not a wise approach. Investing on people will create an automatic sense in the people, that it is only education that will help them to grow and to accelerate the process of development in the country.
A number of studies are included in the analysis, with regard to university education, research activities in the country and hurdles in the way of academic research in the country.
HIGHER EDUCATION IN SAUDI ARABIA:
The importance of higher education cannot be denied in this rapidly rising world. Higher education is considered as an important ingredient of strengthening human capital and thus, represents a useful investment for a nation, having high returns in future (Olaniyan, 2008).
The previous studies have analyzed that Saudi government is keen in investing on its people. The government has directed the Higher Education Ministry of Saud Arabia to bring the education level of the country in line with the international standards, such skills and knowledge is necessary that will help students to work in global market (Chaminade, 2006). The Ministry of Higher Education of Saudi Arabia has restructured its education system. A wide range of programs are being followed, including; enhanced quality education, scientific research, scholarships to deserving students and proper financing of universities.
The government of Saudi Arabia is successfully approaching to fulfill the objectives of higher education in the country, in terms of quality as well as in terms of number. At the same time, the government is determined to secure its cultural and religious values as well. However, some issues are to be faced such as improving the quality of its rapidly pacing higher education sector, including the usage of English as the lingua franca in its universities and the issue of gender discrimination in the country (Onsman, 2011).
The National Commission for Academic Accreditation and Assessment (NCAAA) is responsible for ensuring standard for accreditation of all Higher Education institutions and programs (Onsman, 2010). The Commission expects that Higher Education will create quality assurance systems that are to be used for assessment by the Commission for accreditation. The Commission is an independent authority and is responsible for checking and resolving quality issues, resource availability, quality of teaching methods adopted by teachers and quality of learning that a student gets.
ACADEMIC RESEARCH IN SAUDI ARABIA AND OBSTACLES TO ACHIEVE EFFICIENCY IN RESEARCH PRODUCTIVITY:
Studies have been carried out to see the pace of research activities in Saudi Arabia and the obstacles/hurdles in the way achieving efficiency in research productivity. A cross-sectional study was carried out in a medical university of Saudi Arabia. Using questionnaires, views of faculty members were taken on the quality of scientific research and issues related to research activities. 42% of faculty members gave their opinion that the quality of scientific research should be enhanced (Al-Gindan, Al-Sulaiman, Muhanna,…