Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Agency

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia will allow foreign universities to open branches in the kingdom under a new law, Minister of Higher Education Hamad Bin Mohammad Al Shaikh has said.

“The new system will allow foreign universities to open branches in accordance to specific regulations to boost competitiveness to raise efficiency of the university education,” Al Shaikh told the official Saudi news agency SPA.

The new law, which the Saudi government approved on Tuesday, ensures independence for the universities in line with the general policy of the state, said the minister who called it a “qualitative leap” for the Saudi universities.

Under the law, a council for universities’ affairs will be set up with membership of a number of governmental agencies and representatives of the private sector. Each university will have a board of trustees to help achieve governance, and international consultative councils will be created to expand the decision-making base, Al Shaikh said.

“The new system will be gradually applied, starting with three universities in the first stage with a one-year transitional period,” he added.

“It is based on empowerment, distinction, quality, contribution to development of educational and research, boost of spending efficiency, and development of financial resources of the universities as well as human resources in conformity to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” Al Shaikh added.

In 2016, Saudi Arabia launched Vision 2030, an ambitious scheme aimed at diversifying its economy and expanding national development.