The effects of Saudisation on universities

University World News (24 June 2016 Issue No: 419) published this piece by Manail Anis Ahmed about the effects of saudisation on universities. “Saudi Arabia’s policy of replacing foreign workers with its own citizens is known as Saudisation. Until very recently, the oil-rich Saudi kingdom has depended heavily on expatriates to fill jobs. Currently, however, the country is faced with a burgeoning young population that needs to find gainful employment. Unprecedented numbers of young Saudis are also returning to the country after benefiting from the King Abdullah Scholarship Program overseas.

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Al Arabiya of September 5th, 2013 informed that despite Saudi Arabia’s launch of initiatives to ensure better employment rates among its nationals, there is still a deficiency in the country’s labour market which affects its “competitiveness” in the global arena, as per the latest World Economic Forum report shows.  More recently , University World News ( Issue No: 419) published this piece by Manail Anis Ahmed  about the effects of saudisation on universities.

“Saudi Arabia’s policy of replacing foreign workers with its own citizens is known as Saudisation. Until very recently, the oil-rich Saudi kingdom has depended heavily on expatriates to fill jobs. Currently, however, the country is faced with a burgeoning young population that needs to find gainful employment. Unprecedented numbers of young Saudis are also returning to the country after benefiting from the King Abdullah Scholarship Program overseas.

The Saudi state has been working hard to absorb these qualified citizens into the workforce. As with all economic sectors, this has had an obvious effect on the substantial higher education industry in the country.

The Saudi Ministry of Labour has in recent years worked quickly to ensure the implementation of new Saudisation laws within higher education and both public and private universities have been quick to comply.

Workforce localisation at such a rapid pace has been unprecedented in this country – however, academia, for various reasons, has been ill prepared to deal with such a sudden paradigm shift.

How university business has been affected

Whereas teaching and research faculty in Saudi universities continue to be a more or less even mix of Saudi and foreign citizens, administrative positions have overwhelmingly been Saudised.

Until recently, the vast majority of university administrators – the departmental administrative assistants, curriculum developers, research centre directors, international engagement managers, quality assurance personnel and so on – have overwhelmingly been foreign citizens.

These have been the people tasked with establishing, developing, running and maintaining, as well as growing, academic departments and administrative units within universities.

In contrast, it has been easier for the human resource divisions of universities to justify the recruitment and retention of non-Saudi teaching faculty as Saudi applicants with the required terminal degrees and higher-level teaching and research credentials have been somewhat more difficult to find. Therefore, as opposed to teaching positions, university administrative positions have been relatively more quickly Saudised.

This has had an immediate effect on university business. For the most part, inevitably, things have slowed down. This is as much a result of Saudi professional culture as of the lack of previous institutional exposure and relevant professional training received by Saudi administrators. The leadership in Saudi universities must be given credit for having moved quickly and earnestly to meet this challenge.

Administrators have been provided with the best available professional development opportunities. Consultants – predominantly from Western, English-speaking countries – have been called in to provide training and development for Saudi professional staff. In addition, many Saudi staff members have been sent to prestigious venues abroad for multiple weeks of residential and immersive training.

However, on the flip side, this has added to the administrative, bureaucratic and financial burden of universities.

Read more at the above mentioned website  address .