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Saudi Arabia's progress in higher education
Riyadh, Feb 13th, 2001
The leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has realized, for many years, the importance of preparing qualified Saudis in order to build the nation. It believes that the cultural and scientific progress of any nation is closely dependent on qualified citizens who can take on the task of building the nation.

This trend has been reflected in the successive development plans, which have emphasized the need to develop human resources (the nation's real wealth). The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz was the pioneer of education in the Kingdom. He laid the foundations for the Kingdom's educational system and since then has been following the progress of education with great interest.

As a result of this official interest from the Saudi Government, the Kingdom has witnessed great advances in education. The Kingdom now has eight universities in all parts of the country. Each university is academically and administratively independent and has modern dormitories. The government provides all the financial support needed by the universities.

These eight universities have 76 colleges, covering 400 specialized fields. These colleges have 10,000 staff and 239,000 students. The Kingdom also has 72 faculties affiliated to the General Presidency of Girls’ Education, with an estimated 195,000 students. The Ministry of Education has 18 technical faculties, which have an estimated 22,500 students. There are also 5,000 students at health faculties and institutes.

The Umm al-Qura University was the first university to be established in the Kingdom, in 1369 AH. The College of Shariah was the first modern higher education establishment. The Umm al-Qura University now has nine colleges that teach more than 50 specialized fields and have more than 31,000 male and female students.

The second university is the Islamic University in Madinah al-Munawarah, established in 1381AH, in order to enhance the role of the Kingdom in serving Islam and Muslims all over the world. The University has allocated 58 per cent of its seats to non-Saudi students from more than 105 countries. It has five colleges that teach 16 specialized fields in various Islamic sciences and has more than 4,000 students.

The third university is the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University, established in 1373/1374AH. It started with two colleges of Shariah and Arabic Language. The University now has 12 colleges, with more than 51,000 male and female students. The university has affiliated institutes in the United Arab Emirates, Mauritania, Indonesia, Japan, Djibouti and the USA.

The fourth university is the King Saud University, which was established in 1377/1378AH. It is considered as one of the largest universities in the world, in terms of diversity of specialized fields. It has 62,000 male and female students, studying at 17 colleges.

The fifth university is the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, established in 1384 AH. It has more than 36,000 male and female students, studying at eleven colleges, which have more than 87 specialized fields.

The sixth university is the King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals, which started as a Faculty for Petroleum and Minerals in 1383AH and turned into a university in 1395AH. The University has six scientific colleges and more than 9,000 students.

The seventh university is the King Faisal University, which started in 1395AH. It has seven colleges and more than 15,000 male and female students.

The eighth university is the King Khaled University, which started in Abha, in the Asir region in 1419/1420AH. It comprises four colleges and nearly 13,000 male and female students, studying medicine, education and science.

As for the fields of scientific research and foreign participation, more than 700 professors participated in a number of scientific conferences and meetings at a number of academic centers all over the world in the academic year 1418/1419AH.

Moreover, a Royal approval was issued on the decision of the Council of Higher Education to establish four colleges in various regions, as well as a college of technology in Najran.

Recently, an organizational regulation was issued to set up non-profitable private colleges in various regions of the Kingdom to be an extension of the role of universities.

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