Under a New Education Law, Foreign Universities Can Now Open Branch Campuses in Saudi Arabia

As Saudi Arabia moves forward with its plans to diversify its economy towards a more knowledge-based one, as well as create opportunities for its youth and women, the country is also revisiting its education sector, looking at ways to boost academic competitiveness. This week, the Kingdom has taken a landmark decision allowing foreign universities to open branches in the Saudi Arabia under new law.

Speaking to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Minister of Higher Education Hamad Bin Mohammad Al Shaikh said, “The new system will allow foreign universities to open branches in accordance to specific regulations to boost competitiveness to raise efficiency of the university education” and it will also “create a variety of educational opportunities for those wishing to join the international universities.”

So far, no universities have been named but the report states that, in the first phase, the new system will be applied to three universities, allowing each institution a transitional period of one year from the date the draft law is implemented. In addition, a council for universities’ affairs will be set up, comprising various governmental agencies and representatives of the private sector.

“It is based on empowerment, distinction, quality, contribution to development of educational and research, boost of spending efficiency, and development of financial resources of the universities as well as human resources in conformity to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” Al Shaikh explained.

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