Writing at Arab News, Abdullah Sayel asks a very good question. There are 150,000 Saudi students studying abroad, both privately and as part of the King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship program. What’s going to happen to/with them once they finish their studies and return to Saudi Arabia? Just looking at the female students, who comprise about 25% of the foreign scholarship students, that’s 50,000 educated women who have some expectation of finding jobs. Never mind that some of the fields in which they’ve studied have next to no job opportunities; never mind that they’re returning with solid degrees achieved at government expense. Instead focus on the fact that the government — and society — are in now way prepared to find 50K jobs or to create them.
Education for its own sake certainly has value. But higher education is seen as a means to achieve things in life. If all you end up with is a large number of highly educated people with no prospect for work or advancement, you have a very limited achievement. You also have fertile ground for dissent arising from the inability to match expectations with reality.
I’ve no doubt that the graduates, male and female, will be militating for changes in the way in which Saudi society and Saudi government approach employment. How patient they are and how receptive government and society are to change, however, are the big, unanswered questions.
The 150,000 scholars … on their way back
Eight thousand Saudis have graduated days ago from the United States. From Ph.D to BA, you name it and they have accomplished it. Thirty percent of those are female graduates. Globally, nearly 50,000 Saudi female graduates are supposed to find appropriate jobs for their qualifications as soon as possible.
Here comes the bigger question: Are the available jobs capable of absorbing the coming lot satisfactorily?