Document Details

Title Too Much or Too Little? Online Higher Education in Saudi Arabia
Author Christopher Hill - OBHE Associate; Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, The British University in Dubai


When it comes to education, Saudi Arabia may be a victim of its own success. Fueled by unmatched oil wealth, the government’s massive investment in the education sector, greatly expanding access, has generated a nationally unprecedented pool of talent. However, the labour market has not evolved at the same pace, limiting opportunities for graduates. Employment for Saudi nationals is heavily skewed towards the higher-paying public sector, and despite reform efforts the country remains dependent on large numbers of foreign workers, not least in many highly skilled occupations. In 2014, graduate unemployment stood at 16%, although 32% for women and only 4% for men.

Given growth in bricks-and-mortar capacity, the role of online higher education may be less about access to conventional colleges and universities, but is starting to emerge as a blended pathway, and helps accommodate the kingdom’s norm of gender separation.

What does online higher education look like in Saudi Arabia, how is it regulated and is there evidence that Saudi residents are turning to online degrees from foreign providers?

Date 13/04/2017
Region(s) Middle East & Gulf States
Countries Saudi Arabia
Theme(s) Transnational Education (TNE) Models, Technology
Topic(s) Distance Education

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