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Tariq Abdulaziz Alhamad, Vice Dean, Al Qassim University

With Saudi Arabia and King Salman’s Vision 2030 aiming to solidify the country as an economic and and cultural powerhouse in the Middle East, The PIE News talked to Tariq Abdulaziz Alhamad, the vice dean and clinical director at Al Quassim University, about what role higher education plays in the new vision.

The PIE: How are you trying to improve the academic delivery at private universities in Saudi Arabia?

"Collaboration with some top universities in the United Kingdom (is one of our aims)"

TAA: This is actually quite a big challenge just to do because if we just compare the private universities in Saudi Arabia with some newly developed countries, we find there is quite a significant difference between them. So now our team plan is just to increase this development of this university, to be similar to the government [institutions], or maybe much better than them.

So the challenge nowadays is that we have to evaluate all the structure, all the materials, every outcome from this university.

You can just evaluate each university or each college either by closing them or just give them the green light and the licence to continue. So I think we have quite a big challenge for the next couple of months or years, especially if we are looking for our vision 2030 which is built by King Salman and the crown prince Muhammed, so we are looking how to specialise this university, how to improve it, and how to make sure the outcome and the quality is of a high standard.

The PIE: So tell me about your aim here at Study World?

TAA: The first thing is how to have a good collaboration with some top universities in the UK, they can collaborate with a private university, supervise their structure and some material so we can make sure that the outcome of this private university is going to be good. Because British universities will not collaborate with any university or college if they are bad, so this is one our aims.

The second thing I am trying to discuss with experts here is how they can develop these kind of universities. If they have any suggestion or any ideas how I may discuss it with my team, with the minister of education, so we can just improve the group of private universities.

“Hopefully by next year we might have again some scholarship programs and I’m hoping it’s going to consolidating some important areas”

The PIE: And tell me about the vision for the education in Saudi Arabia?

TAA: Yeah actually its quite an amazing and difficult vision, so we have to work hard just to achieve it. Some of the students, not all, just some, do not care about studying, about the outcome, about the university. Some of them just join university because they would like to join the university, without any aims, but with our new vision none of the universities will allow any student, if they are not qualified, to graduate.

The other thing is they would like to force the university just to have really good programs, which could help the industrial field in our country to increase and to develop. So hopefully this vision will mean the outcome of the universities, even the programs in our universities, are going to be improved.

The PIE: Are you up to speed with the latest on the King Abdullah Scholarship Program?

TAA: As you know it just stopped last year, and I think our government now is thinking about how to reopen it again, so hopefully by next year we might have again some scholarship programs and I’m hoping it’s going to consolidate some important areas that we need to develop and achieve our Vision 2030.

The PIE: So the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, is that a public University or private?

TAA: It’s private actually but it’s under our government responsibility.

The PIE: Because I was hearing it’s an amazing campus on an island, I didn’t know that.

TAA: That’s right, well actually I’ve been there once and also I was amazedIt’s one of the best universities to be honest

The PIE: So is that the jewel of the crown, one of the best universities in Saudi Arabia?

TAA: I cannot say the best but it’s one of the best, because also we have Princess Nourah University – it’s the biggest female university in the world, and it’s the most beautiful campus you will ever see. I’ve been to hundreds of universities around the world and I have never seen a university like it in my life.

Some of my colleagues from the United Kingdom, from the United States, from Australia, they are visiting me for some meetings and research, and they are surprised about this university. So I think nowadays in Saudi Arabia we are developing rapidly and hopefully in the next 5 or 10 years we are going to start something amazing in terms of the outcome of the universities.

The PIE: Will Saudi Arabia develop a strategy to attract international students more determinedly once the quality is more level? Do you think that would ever become a situation where you are trying to develop as an education hub?

TAA: I think 100% it’s going to be [the case], especially for the people who are living in the Middle East. Because nowadays in our government and universities, we are finding some students from GCC, so if we develop the education system as we expect and as we suggest it and as our government [endeavours], I think we are going to attract people from different countries around the world. Hopefully from Western countries as well.

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