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academic communities in broad-based change—

new approaches to institutional governance are


The growing participation of women in all fields

of study and practice requires considerable

cultural accommodation, not only in Saudi Arabia,

but everywhere. Universities have a key role in

encouraging and developing female talent, but also

ensuring that women and men can collaborate in

environments that promote mutual respect.

What should be taught

As Saudi Arabia continues on the path to a

diversified economy, less dependent on oil, the

country will need to cultivate new talent and

skills. The economy of the future will require

entrepreneurs and innovators. The traditional

university model of educating students in lecture

halls is not well suited to this objective. Students

today need to be actively involved with solving

real problems and issues in their field of study and

skilled in the use of evolving technologies before

they graduate.

Employers nearly everywhere expect university

graduates to have professional knowledge

and skills but also a range of “soft skills”. The

cultivation of skills such as creativity, critical

analysis, written and oral communication, the

ability to work in diverse teams, the ability to solve

complex problems, etc. has to be integrated across

the curriculum. This implies rethinking the design

of degree programs and requires orientation and

support for professors who will be required to

teach differently.

Although it is highly likely that most university

graduates will need additional education in the

future to learn new skills and integrate new

technologies, continuing education is less likely to

provide the opportunity for personal development

that the undergraduate experience can encourage

and facilitate. For most young students, the

university is the last stage of their education before

entering the adult world as citizens, professionals,

artists, or pursuing whatever path they choose.

The university needs to reflect deeply on how best

to prepare them for entry.

Transforming Saudi Universities in an Era of