The Saudi Council of Universities Affairs, headed by Minister of Education Dr. Hamad Al-Sheikh, has taken a decision to convert 40 theoretical colleges into applied colleges. These colleges, located in different governorates, would be converted into colleges specialized in health, technology and engineering. With this decision, the total number of applied colleges in Saudi Arabia would number 75.
The colleges proposed to be converted into applied colleges include theoretical colleges for humanities and literature. Other colleges to be converted include university colleges that do not serve the requirements of the labor market in accordance with their individual missions and specializations.
Saudi Universities to be classified into five categories
The Saudi Council of Universities Affairs has approved the classification of the Saudi universities into five categories, namely, comprehensive, pedagogical, specialized, research and applied.
The basic qualifying criteria for all the five models of colleges include the main performance indices, which are – the goal of the college, the type of programs offered, the operating model and organization structure of the university, financial efficiency and funding, and student enrollment. These criteria outlined by the council are intended to differentiate between colleges, enhance the level of focus and specialization, enhance operational efficiency and increase the level of value-addition to society and the country.
The criteria also intend to provide a road map with a focus on strategy for the colleges and improve the quality of education provided by these institutions to keep pace with the demands of the national, regional and international labor market.
The Saudi Council of Universities Affairs has also decided to moderate admissions to other theoretical academic programs in colleges that are not in line with the needs of the labor market. The council also took a decision to increase the number of admissions to applied colleges by facilitating the admission of both male and female students in over 80 applied programs that are more suited to the needs of development, the labor market and the needs of the nation.
A decision was also made by the council to address the situation of college branches, divisions and departments which had not been created by decisions from the council or the Higher Education Council. The number of registered students until the graduation of the last batch would also be taken into consideration.
This decision was made taking into consideration the admission of new students in the applied colleges, or colleges close to them, or at the main headquarters of the University according to target specialization and keeping in accordance with the requirements of the labor market.