PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES

Saudi Arabia 2018-19 | EDUCATION | B2B

With education playing a major role in Vision 2030, private universities are preparing their students with the skills and capacities for 21st-century jobs.

Sabih Taher Al Masri
SABIH TAHER AL MASRI
Vice Chairman
Fahad Bin Sultan University (FBSU)
Khedir Al-Qurashi
KHEDIR AL-QURASHI
Rector
University of Prince Mugrin (UPM)

What are your main strengths as an institution?

SABIH TAHER AL MASRI The university strives to provide quality education, conduct scientific research, and contribute to community advancement through professional and developmental services while preserving a strong commitment to the highest ethical and patriotic standards. FBSU's position as the only private university in the northwestern area of the Kingdom complements the university's academic strengths of providing a first-class educational experience for students in preparation for careers in both government and private businesses. Furthermore, as the only academic institution in the Tabuk region that teaches in English, FBSU has become an academic destination for both students and scholars from other countries as well as a model for 21st-century higher education. Since its inception, the university has evolved in terms of the student body, programs, and reputation, and this growth is expected to continue during the coming decades as the Tabuk region is currently witnessing profound changes, particularly in light of the recently announced NEOM city project.

KHEDIR AL-QURASHI UPM is the first non-profit higher education university located in Medina. We were first established as three colleges: engineering, computer science and information technology, and business. Our fourth college, currently under construction, is hospitality and management. Our main strength is having programs that are catered to the needs of the market, and thus we have programs that are phased out or created according to the needs of the current and future job market. This is one of the goals and visions of the university. We offer an undergraduate cybersecurity and forensic program, which is one of the most important needs of the global and local economy. The next program we are designing is mechatronics. We also offer summer training opportunities so that students can experience real-life employment experience before graduating. We also allow them to undertake real research even in undergraduate programs. All our programs are benchmarked with top-ranking universities in the US, the UK, and Switzerland.

How has privatization influenced your operational strategy?

STAM When we think about the future of academia in Saudi Arabia and the region, in general, it is important to consider globalization, privatization, and technological advancement as powerful tools that will have a tremendous impact on the educational system and the institutions. Privatization will weigh in heavily in the educational sector within the coming decade. The university is greatly concerned with facilitating a student's transition to the market economy by providing them with quality higher education that will enable them to develop the skills and competencies required for success in this ever-changing world.

KAQ Privatization is the name of the game and the solution for our economy. The government has to open the doors fully to the private sector, and our university is ready and prepared for this. Another welcomed evolution is the opening up to foreign investment. The government has new rules to allow foreign universities to have their own campuses here, and we are considering MoUs with those who want to invest in the Kingdom. We are considering establishing an agreement of cooperation to allow for dual degrees. Universities have to adapt to the business sectors, processes, ideas, and so on. Our connection with the industry and our applied research make us well placed for this task.

What are some of your goals for the year ahead?

STAM The university has been established for over 15 years now, and we have ambitious plans to move forward and help advance our social commitments in the community. We are on the verge of commencing master's degree programs in various engineering areas with particular concentrations on engineering disciplines that are deemed most important to ongoing developments and upcoming projects. Particularly, we support those in the northwestern areas of the Kingdom and those projects that are strategic to the development of the Tabuk region.

KAQ We have to be self-sufficient, revenue wise, because we currently depend mainly on the endowment. Second, we have to make sure our new programs are related to the changing market needs. We also need to make sure that all program accreditation is up to date, and to achieve these objectives, we need to be selective with our student intake. We also need to recruit and distinguish faculty members to help us establish new graduate programs and ensure our accreditations remain up to date.