Saudi Arabia: Is A University Degree Necessary?

In a recent opinion piece published in the Saudi Gazette, my dear friend, Tariq Al-Meeana, shares his perspectives on whether Saudi nationals should be pushed or pressured to obtain University degrees.

There is a strong emphasis in Saudi Arabia for its citizens to have a University degree, in some cases whether they intend to actually use it or not.  For example, in some circles, a University degree is considered a cachet for a Saudi woman interested in marriage.  In many places, a University degree will make the distinction at what level and what salary a Saudi employee can achieve.

The King Abdullah Scholarship program allows thousands of Saudi citizens to apply for educational scholarships both within and outside of Saudi Arabia.  The scholarship program covers the tuition fees, costs of books, housing and substance for the student with the intent that the student can dedicate all the necessary time to study and obtain good grades.

But what about the students who may not be higher achievers or may be lazy?   What can they do?  The less scrupulous have taken the easy man’s way out and have purchased an online degree through a ‘diploma mill.’  Fortunately, the Ministry of Higher Education identified 110 agencies which sold online degrees from non-Saudi universities and is taking action.

So this further reinforces the question which I share with Tariq Al-Meeana is whether a University degree is required?  Given that the number of Saudi nationals under the age of 16 make up the majority of the Saudi population, arrangements should be made now to accommodate the massive influx of future college age citizens.

While Saudi Arabia does an exemplary job in providing University level education for its nationals, not all individuals are best suited for college.  Some may even prefer to have alternative choices such as technical schools, trade schools, nursing schools and other specialized schools which will also ensure that they can pursue a valid and fulfilling career.

What is YOUR view on a college education?  Should it always be the first option for a high school graduate to pursue?  Why or why not?


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