UBT recently set up UBT Academy, an English training institute franchise. How has this progressed in the last year?
The progress throughout the last year included approving the entire curriculum and recruiting the required manpower. In line with the strategy set out, UBT Academy signed an agreement with one of the largest IT consultancy firms to develop an IT policy. UBT Academy has developed a model for master franchises and aims to sign agreements in Bahrain, Kuwait, and the UAE. UBT Academy targets six branches by the end of 2018 and another 12 branches by end-2019. As soon as the model is implemented, replicating that model takes approximately three months, which is the same time required to develop the facility itself. We will either find an investor or simply invest ourselves, develop it for one year, and then sell it. Institutes typically focus on the general public, teachers, or training professionals; however, none focus on the holistic approach of English training for the entire community. UBT Academy offers six different programs and a handful of institutes under one brand. It is an English institute, a training institute for teachers, and a school accreditation institute packaged into one franchise. The beauty of UBT Academy is its partnerships with the top publishers around the globe, creating a unique curriculum based on each country's requirements. The core business of UBT Academy is not to produce the content, but rather to adopt global best practices and leverage them. UBT Academy combines the best of the best together in one curriculum with the most qualified and competent staff and standards for assessment to create a modern learning experience.
UBT Company has been developing its own system to measure all aspects of its performance. Can you tell us more about this?
UBT developed a model named Quswa. Currently being registered for property rights, Quswa is an effectiveness and efficiency initiative for universities that measures every detail, including water vapor, LED lights, and the cost of various activities. UBT was honored the Digital Excellence Award from Oracle in 2017, which noted that UBT is the only university in the world that applies activity-based costing in its enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation. UBT developed the ERP structure as a result of its global outreach and growth. Thus, UBT needed to standardize practices and measure both sources and resources that either incur costs or generate profits. Similar to a KPI audit, today we measure it all and are able to quantify a university from A to Z. If the same is done in public universities, quality and efficiency would triple, saving a minimum SAR60 billion (USD16 billion) per year. UBT Company is ready to diagnose any public or private university for free. UBT Company aims to help other institutions—and society at large—become more efficient and deliver better services.
The Saudi economy has had a difficult year, and yet you have many new directions and programs. How are you moving forward despite fiscal tightening?
The overall market, including that of the private higher education, is shrinking. However, UBT has not seen a drop, but rather an increase its market share. In late 2017, UBT College of Law was launched. UBT has reshaped the programs it provides, while introducing five new graduate programs. In terms of employability rate of our graduates, UBT is the pioneer in meeting the needs of the market, of which we are extremely proud. Based on a recent UBT survey, 78% of our graduates are employed—the highest number in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. UBT graduates receive their first full-time job within six months of graduation on average. Founded in 2011, the fourth batch of our UBT College of Advertising is graduating next term, with 100% of the students already employed.