Admission rates for students in a number of faculties at Saudi universities, including engineering, technology, business and medicine, are set to double compared with 2020 levels, education authorities have announced.
The Council of Universities Affairs, chaired by Hamad Al-Sheikh, the minister of education, said on Sunday that the aim of the decision is to improve educational outcomes and help meet the needs of labor markets.
Universities will also be required to reduce the acceptance rate for disciplines “not compatible with the labor market” by at least 50 percent, the council said. The mandated increases and reductions will apply for five years, beginning with the coming academic year, and will be reassessed after three years.
These and other decisions announced by the council are designed to help prepare students for the labor market in more efficient and effective ways, and ensure that they can compete with other graduates locally and globally.
The council also told universities to gather data, to be published in a semi-annual report published on the university’s website, about employment rates among their graduates in all disciplines, the salary levels of working graduates, and whether or not their jobs are related to their field of study. This decision reflects the importance of competition between universities and their efforts to align academic programs with the requirements of local and international labor markets, according to the council.
The changes follow a broader liberalization of the Saudi higher education sector. In 2019, the Council of Ministers approved a law granting “disciplined independence” to universities, which allowed them to develop their own academic, financial and administrative regulations in accordance with state-approved public policies. These policies are implemented by the council, which is a Saudi government institution that organizes university affairs and approves education policies and strategies in the Kingdom.
The council said that the first phase of the new regulations will apply to King Saud, King Abdulaziz, and Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal universities. It added that they will allow universities to financially benefit from the development of various revenue streams, including “scientific research or consulting services for other internal or external bodies.”