One measure of the quality of an education is how well it helps in gaining employment. By that standard, the Saudi education system is not up to scratch. Arab News reports that most employers see a foreign university education as a strong plus when it comes to hiring. Some argue that ‘an education is an education’, but many seem to think that even the exposure to foreign ways provides a competitive edge over those wholly educated in the Kingdom. As it’s Saudis who are doing the hiring, it’s Saudis who are giving a vote of no-confidence in the current educational system. This, of course, is one of the factors behind the urgent moves to reform Saudi education.
For centuries, vast parts of Saudi Arabia were essentially cut off from international intercourse. The result was a bit of xenophobia, resistance to change, and a rather smug attitude of ‘If it didn’t come from here, it can’t be worth much.’ Since the early days of modern Saudi Arabia, the government has been struggling to bring modernity to the country, though its preferred model—modernization without change—was impossible. The result has been a developed education system that clearly values the old ways, but in doing so it misses out on both technical and social skills that are critical in today’s global economy.
According to the article, it doesn’t seem to make much difference where one studies, as long as it’s outside the Kingdom. That is a serious indictment of the current system.
Graduates with foreign degrees have better openings in job market
Laura Bashraheel | Arab News
JEDDAH: Last week, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah extended the “King Abdullah Scholarship Program” by another five years. Studying abroad provides students with the skills needed in this era of globalization and economic prosperity in the Kingdom, and Saudis have long appreciated the value of studying aboard, something that has long been seen as a way of securing good employment. Whether this is true or not is another matter.
According to the Ministry of Higher Education, there are 62,241 Saudi students, both male and female, studying abroad. Although the Saudi higher education system has developed rapidly to meet Saudi job market needs, including the increased establishment of universities in the Kingdom, many students still prefer to study abroad.
Competition in the workplace has led to calls for higher standards in educational development, and Saudi Arabia, being a country with huge potential and vast resources, has been faced with new challenges in education.