Higher Education in Saudi Arabia Essay Example

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2Higher Education in Saudi Arabia

Higher Education in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia became a nation back in the year 1932, during this time the education in the country was very limited, and it entailed the instruction in a few of the Islamic schools. The situation has really changed over time and this has made public education open to any willing Saudi Arabia citizen that is willing to learn (Smith & Abouammoh, 2013). This has led to greater number of people seeking high education in the country. For instance in the 2012-2-13 academic year there were a total of around 44,566 Saudi Arabian students who were enrolled in US universities and colleges and the enrollment seems to be increasing as the years go by (IIE 2013). With the large population of people, willing to learn there is always an urgent need for institutions of higher learning in a country and Saudi Arabia have also not been left out. Saudi Arabian higher education has over the year’s encountered tremendous growth and thus the higher education system that is solely base on diversification to meet the needs of the students and the country has expanded greatly. There are 26 Government universities (Ministry of Education, 2017), around 80 primary teachers colleges of women, 18 primary teachers colleges for men, 12 technical colleges, 37 colleges and institutions for health education and 33 private universities(Alamri, 2011). It can also be noted that though the private institutions in the country cropped up in the last decade there exists a good number of the private institution of higher education and the number tends to be on the rise (Alamri, 2011). This can be greatly attributed to the large number of student attending institutions of higher learning and the existing government universities cannot serve them all thus, they search for education in the private institutions (Alamri, 2011).

Based on the statistics by the ministry of education in Saudi Arabia there are more women in institutions of higher education as compared to their male counterparts (Saudi Gazette, 2015). Around 51.8% of the students are women while their male’s counterpart takes up the remaining percentage. Thus, around 551,000 women are studying to attain their bachelor’s degrees as compared to around 513,000 men (Saudi Gazette, 2015). The ministry further stated that around 24,498 women are at the verge of completing their graduate studies; while another lot of 16,221 are undertaking their matters and 1,744 completing, their PHD studies (Saudi Gazette, 2015). While some students are sponsored by, the government and this mainly applies to those who are in the government institutions. With time, the ministry of Higher Education in Saudi Arabia also started to sponsor even students who enrolled in the private universities and this offered those students who cannot afford the fees as well as tuition at the local university an opportunity to study. With the increased number of students willing to study and the changes that are taking place all over the globe, there will be tremendous change when it comes to the level of higher education in Saudi Arabia (Alamri 2011). A major fund that assists the students is the higher education fund and the ministry of higher education is charged with the responsibility of funding the higher education sector (World Education News & Reviews 2017). Additionally, there are those students whose are educated by their parents and more so in instances when they want to take up courses that are currently not being offered in their area or country. The government of Saudi Arabia also sponsors some of the students who studies overseas (ICEF Monitor 2016).

Like any other institutions all over the globe the institution of higher learning in Saudi Arabia can be said to be applying both face-to-face learning and distance learning. This is mainly done with the aim of meeting the needs of a great number of students all over the country. This is attributed to the fact that though some students may be willing to study in a certain institution to undertake certain courses the institution are very far from them and thus through distance learning they can undertake the courses and graduate (Geyer 2007). Nevertheless, it is crucial to note that there seems to be a lower uptake of the distance learning and great number of people in Saudi Arabia tends to prefer the face-to-face learning. Thus, the use of distance learning in Saudi Arabia can be said to be at its initial stages (Alqarni 2015). Distance learning therefore plays a crucial role in Saudi Arabia by offering them with solutions to the overcrowding problems in the classrooms and to the poor quality of education, which is experienced in some of the institutions. In Saudi Arabia a great number of universities have taken up the concept of distance learning and therefore established web-based learning in the higher education’s and this works together with the blended learning and it developed the quality of learning and teaching in the institutions (Alebaikan, 2010). There are a lot of efforts being made to blend the face to face education and the distance learning in the Saudi Arabian institutions of higher learning but a major drawback is that the students lacks adequate knowledge of the internet and how it can be used in education (Al-Asmari & Khan 2014). Face-to-face education is most commonly used in the Saudi Arabian institutions of higher learning and through it; the learners receive instructions from the tutors in their classes (Alkhatnai, 2011). This kind of educations allows the students to participate in their learning by being actively involved in terms of the physical presence and their discussions in the classes. A great number of students in Saudi Arabia are more used to face-to-face education (Abedalla, Pinchot and Samrgandi 2014). This kind of education have been a challenge and more so in the higher education institutions and this is brought about by the great number of students joining the institutions leading to a high student to lecturer ratio (Albalawi, 2007).

The institutions of higher education in Saudi Arabia combine both the e learning and the traditional learning approaches when delivering the educational content to their learners. When these two concepts are coupled, they help a lot of tackling the issues, challenges and filling the gaps that one approach may have over the other (Algahtani, 2011). This means that in the end, the students are taught well and they learn well when both methods are used (Algahtani, 2011). The concept of E-learning seems to be spreading fast in Saudi Arabia and a number of initiatives are in place to introduce it. A major issue that is prevalent that despite the fact that e-learning can play an essential role when it comes to the transformation of education there is always a risk that learners may put technology before their education and this the ideal idea may eventually not be attained (Arkorful & Abaidoo 2014)

With the advancement in technology, there have been a high uptake of mobile learning and it helps learners when they are outside their traditional classroom in that they can make use of other learning devices such as the palm tops, mobile phones, tablets, and computer to undertake an enhance the various learning activities. Being among one of the distance learning tool, mobile learning is cherished by a great number of learners due to texting, learners use these in their file transfer, online discussions and to access the academic library support just to mention few of them (Altameem, 2011). Despite the huge uptake in Saudi Arabia there students have a number of complains and this includes the small screens, slow downloading speed and the limitation to access of some of the web based materials (Alasmari, 2017).The mobile devices used also presents challenges due to their memory size, theory processing power, battery life and the processing platform. The students and lectures in Saudi Arabia show high readiness of the usage of mobile leaning and more so in relation to the ease of use and usefulness for their teaching and learning in institutions of higher education (Al-Asmari & Khan, M. 2014). In Saudi Arabia, a great number of university students and their lecturers have mobile phones and this in a way indicates that the mobile technologies and this shows the great rate at which the mobile technology is becoming more accessible to a great number of people (Lawrence et al., 2008). To enhance the services many of them have the advanced mobile phones that have 3G and 4G enabled and this enhance their access to the internet when in need of learning materials. The lectures and students in higher institutions of learning show that a positive attitude to the mobile learning approach (Al-Hujran, Al-Lozi & Al-Debei 2014). They are more enticed by the flexibility that the approach provides and the capability to access the learning materials immediately and at the comfort of their offices and homes (Al-Hujran, Al-Lozi & Al-Debei 2014). This method has also been found to increase the interaction between the teachers and the learners. Thus, there seems to be a need to overcome the challenges posed by this approach to ensure that it successful and that it helps a great deal in making learning more effective (Al-Hujran, Al-Lozi & Al-Debei 2014).

References

Al-Ahmari, A. (2009). Defending distance learning Al-Watan Newspaper 2009 15 March http://www.alwatan.com.sa/news/newsdetail.asp?issueno=3089&id=94199&groupID=0

Alamri, M (2011). Higher Education in Saudi Arabia. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 11, 4

Al-Asmari, A. & Khan, M. (2014). E-learning in Saudi Arabia: Past, Present and Future, near and Middle Eastern Journal of Research in Education.

Alasmari, T (2017). Mobile Learning Technology Acceptance among Saudi Higher Education Students http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2675&context=oa_dissertations

Albalawi, M. S. (2007). Critical factors related to the implementation of web-based instruction by higher-education faculty at three universities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Doctoral dissertation, The University of West Florida). Retrieved from http://amazingdiv.brinkster.net/teacher/research/factors.pdf

Alebaikan, R. A. (2010). Perceptions of blended learning in Saudi universities (Doctoral dissertation, University of Exeter). Retrieved from https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/bitstream/handle/10036/117486/AlebaikanR.pdf?sequence=2

Algahtani, A.F. (2011).Evaluating the Effectiveness of the E-learning Experience in Some Universities in Saudi Arabia from Male Students’ Perceptions. Durham theses: Durham University.

Al-Hujran, O., Al-Lozi, E., & Al-Debei, M. (2014). “Get Ready to Mobile Learning”: Examining Factors Affecting College Students’ Behavioral Intentions to Use M Learning in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Business Administration, 10(1), 16.

Alkhatnai, M. (2011). Learning styles of EFL Saudi college-level students in on-line and traditional educational environments (Doctoral dissertation, Indiana University of Pennsylvania). Retrieved from http://ncys.ksu.edu.sa/sites/ncys.ksu.edu.sa/files/Language18.pdf

Alqarni, A. (2015). Educational Technology in Saudi Arabia: A Historical Overview. International Journal of Education, Learning and Development, 3, 8, 62-69

Altameem , T. (2011). Contextual Mobile Learning System for Saudi Arabian Universities. International Journal of Computer Applications, 21. 4, 21-26.

Arkorful, V & Abaidoo, N. (2014). The role of E-learning, the advantages and disadvantages of its adoption in Higher Education. International Journal of Education and Research, 2.

Geyer, Clemens (2007). Distance learning -advantages and disadvantages of take-home hardware. Vienna University of Technology. Retrieved from: http://ti.tuwien.ac.at/ecs/teaching/courses/dinf-ws07/papers/geyer.pdf

ICEF Monitor (2016). Report: Saudi scholarship programme to sharpen focus on top universities. Retrieved from http://monitor.icef.com/2016/02/report-saudi-scholarship-programme-to-sharpen-focus-on-top-universities/

Institute of International Education (IIE) (2013). Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/opendoors

Lawrence, E., Bachfischer, A., Dyson, L. E., & Litchfield, A. (2008).Mobile learning and student perspectives: An mReality check! Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Mobile Business, Barcelona, Spain.

Ministry of Education (2017). Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.moe.gov.sa/en/HigherEducation/governmenthighereducation/StateUniversities/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Saudi Gazette (2015, May 28). More women than men in Saudi universities, says ministry. Saudi Gazette. Retrieved from http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2015/05/28/More-women-than-men-in-Saudi-universities-says-ministry.html

Smith, L. and Abouammoh, A. (Eds.) (2013). Higher education in Saudi Arabia: Achievements, challenges and opportunities. New York: Springer.

World Education News & Reviews (2017). Higher Education in Saudi Arabia. Retrieved from http://wenr.wes.org/2014/11/higher-education-in-saudi-arabia