TOP UNIVERSITIES

Saudi Arabia 2018-19 | EDUCATION | B2B

Saudi universities are looking beyond just serving the community and Kingdom; they seek to empower students and provide them with both academic and life skills.

Dr. Khalid S. Al-Sultan Former
DR. KHALID S. AL-SULTAN FORMER
Rector
King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM)
Abdulrahman bin Obeid Al-Youbi
ABDULRAHMAN BIN OBEID AL-YOUBI
President
King Abdulaziz University (KAU)

How has the university evolved since its establishment?

DR. KHALID S. AL-SULTAN We started as a small college focusing on a few disciplines regarding petroleum and minerals. Later, the university realized the need to expand both vertically and horizontally and now offers masters' and PhDs in every discipline. At the same time, we expanded the disciplines offered, reflecting developments in the Kingdom. We offer a variety of courses to enrich our students while maintaining our focus. We want to be an applied sciences, engineering, and business school. That is what we do well, and it is what the country needs. One thing we added to our most recent vision and mission statement is energy.

ABDULRAHMAN BIN OBEID AL-YOUBI The main concern of the administration since its establishment, especially over the last two decades, has been for the university to achieve international distinction and recognition. Over the past two decades, the student body has significantly increased to over 150,000 students. The number of newly admitted, enrolled, and graduated students has gradually increased over the past years on an annual basis, especially following the widened scope of the university's mission as a result of the expansion of the university's branches and its academic, administrative, technical, financial, and facilities' needs. One of the university's academic strengths is how it helps students, providing them with the ideal guidance and means of knowledge acquisition in parallel with enabling them to acquire other academic skills.

What is your vision for staff and student exchange regarding internationalization?

KSAS From day one, we emphasized mobility on campus. We have 50-plus nationalities represented in our faculty and 55-plus nationalities in our student body. Secondly, we emphasize as much as possible that students should have international experience before they graduate. We currently have 110 students studying abroad at top universities in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, and South Korea. International students that come here are exposed to comprehensive programs and visit cultural sites and manufacturing facilities. For our research, we encourage travel for conferences and sabbaticals.

ABOAY King Abdulaziz University adheres to the International Cooperation Management's established protocols, which has allowed the university to become more open to prestigious universities and sign cooperation agreements with them in various areas of specialization. In the same context, the King Abdulaziz University International Advisory Board (IAB) was established. In addition, a program to attract highly cited international scientists and scholars was established to support IAB's efforts. To that end, a graduate program has been established for international students. The students come from a range of geographical locations and intellectual background; thus, enriching their contributions and participation in academic research.

How do technological developments impact your teaching methods?

KSAS Many talk about the fourth generation of industrialization and development in the world. We are pushing hard in this direction to make sure we have enough utilization of videos and apps. That said, there needs to be a balance. Online education covers an important aspect, but not everything. Knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and behavior cannot be learned without being immersed in the university experience. We develop students to be a good, global citizen.

ABOAY One of the most important strategies of the university is orienting itself toward becoming an electronic university. We are working tirelessly to increase accessibility and technology, and we have developed an electronic program to monitor and evaluate achievements within the univaersity's strategic plan, while simultaneously increasing financial provisions for electronic management. Additionally, a pioneering step has been the transforming of more than 80% of courses into interactive programs, either through e-learning or distance education.