JEDDAH: The Shoura Council has rejected the proposal of council member Saeed Al-Sheikh to permit foreign universities to open branches in the Kingdom due to concerns over breaching Saudi cultural traditions and gender segregation.
The decision was also based on the failure of the branches of universities in surrounding countries to transfer the latest technologies and the best professors.
According to the council, there is no need to open branches of foreign universities in the Kingdom due to the success of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Scholarship Program.
Ibrahim Abu Abah challenged the proposal, arguing that there are 40 government and private universities able to absorb high school graduates.
While Prince Khaled Al-Saud pointed out that opening foreign universities would require mixed academic environments, Sultan Al-Sultan supported the proposal, arguing that "continuing to graduate students in non-technical fields from our universities would impose a threat on national development."
According to Fatma Al-Qarni, students from more conservative provinces often return from scholarships abroad with "culture shock."
She said it was "strange" that the council had rejected a proposal on Monday regarding teaching assistants and lecturers not taking scholarships abroad, but refused to permit opening foreign universities in the Kingdom due to cultural considerations.
She said many Saudi students wishing to become lecturers or teachers assistants were forced to study abroad, including the Saudi student Nahed Al-Zaid who was murdered while studying abroad to become a teaching assistant.
The Shoura Council had rejected a proposal by Fardous Al-Saleh to launch an external joint supervision programme (EJSP) for teaching assistants and lecturers in Saudi universities. The proposal argued that the EJSP program at King Abdulaziz University is the only regulatory one currently, and suggested granting the opportunity for teaching assistants and lecturers to complete their higher education at universities if social circumstances do not permit them to study abroad.
A proposal by Dalal Al-Harbi and Hani Khashoggi to re-evaluate promotions for faculty members was also rejected.
Article Source: Arab News