Employment of Saudis in universities

September 14, 2017
Employment of Saudis in universities
Barjes Hamoud Al-Barjes


OVER 80,000 faculty members work in Saudi universities. Of whom 32,000, or 40 percent, are non-Saudis. About 47,000 faculty members are males, with 21,000, or 44 percent, being non-Saudis, while female members number 33,000, of whom 11,000 (33 percent) are non-Saudis.

In short, there are 32,000 foreign male and female faculty members in our universities, and the presence of some of these professors is essential and we are thankful for their remarkable contributions.

I am not in a position to classify and compare the efficiency of non-Saudi university professors, but I would like to emphasize here the need to replace foreign faculty members with highly qualified Saudi graduates, many of whom have obtained doctoral degrees. I would like to present statistics, possibilities and the language of numbers to draw the attention of decision-makers.

Among the 32,000 non-Saudi professors in the Kingdom’s universities, 4,179 are associate professors, who can be easily replaced by Saudi assistant professors, who number 7,492. Some of them have been promoted from assistant professor to associate professor.

We have 15,069 non-Saudi assistant professors, most of whom can be replaced by Saudi Ph.D holders.

In addition, we have 7,478 non-Saudi lecturers holding master’s degrees, 567 non-Saudi teachers who hold bachelor's degrees and 2,055 other foreign teachers, some of whom can be replaced by qualified Saudis.

The total number of non-Saudi university professors is 17,592, who represent half of non-Saudi faculty members.

Most universities have signed contracts with companies to supply teachers required for their one-year preparatory courses and these companies rely heavily on non-Saudi teachers, who are in addition to the number of foreign professors and lecturers mentioned above. These companies give priority to making profits rather than providing quality education.

Up till now, there is no database or integrated statistics showing the number of university professors with their functional titles and specialties at all Saudi universities. This situation makes it difficult to analyze the statistics. At the same time, it facilitates manipulation, which in turn leads to the appointment of non-Saudis.

Signing contracts with Saudi and foreign lecturers and university professors on hourly wage is another area for foul play. However, it helps offset the budget deficit.

The issue is not a lack of qualified hands or accumulation of graduates in specific subjects as often portrayed by the media. For example, there are many graduates who have specialized in psychology but they are not employed in our colleges and universities. Saudis will be holding the positions of heads of the department or deans of the faculty while its lecturers will all be foreigners.

Many universities do not publish the names of professors on their websites because many of them will be foreigners and they don’t want to show their names to job-seeking Saudis.

We read disappointing news, such as "a university retrenches 300 non-Saudi academics for poor performance and they included faculty members holding high degrees."

Another news report says "a university ends contracts of 100 non-Saudi academics within a year because their performance did not reach satisfactory levels."

At the same time, there was a disturbing news item that the number of visas issued to universities rose 400 percent last year compared to the previous year. These wrong policies have created chances for foreign recruitment and manipulation.

This is a complicated issue and the main reason for worsening the situation is the absence of a comprehensive database. This demands the formation of a neutral committee that has nothing to do with education to study the situation at our universities and propose corrective measures.

We should learn from the bad experience of Saudi doctorate degree holders in finding jobs despite their high qualifications. They have studied the subject and followed individual cases in all universities. They have a treasure of information related to manipulations. We need a good research based on this information to change the employment situation at our universities.

September 14, 2017
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