RIYADH: The Jeddah-based King Abdul Aziz University (KAU) has been selected as the best university in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries by The Times Higher Education (THE) University Rankings 2018.
Several other universities in Saudi Arabia and the UAE also occupy top positions in the ranking, according to THE, a London-based publication that covers news and issues related to higher education.
“As education across the world experiences huge revamping to keep up with digital and technological changes, universities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also embraced these changes and are leading the Gulf in the field,” said THE.
KAU, it said, ranked in the second tier (201-250), topped the list of universities in the GCC countries in “World University Rankings 2018.”
KAU, established in 1967 as a private university, joined the Saudi public university system in 1973. This university has witnessed tremendous quantitative and qualitative progress in terms of enrolment and diversity of academic programs. KAU is now recognized as a world-class, prestigious university, better known for its international outreach and collaboration in research, innovation, accreditations and rankings.
KAU was followed by Khalifa University (301-350) in the UAE, Qatar University (401-500), the United Arab Emirates University (501-600) and Alfaisal University (501-600), which is in Riyadh. Khalifa University is a science-focused university in Abu Dhabi with a satellite campus in Sharjah. The rankings include 1,102 universities from 77 countries.
Educational experts said the rankings are crucial for GCC countries because they give external validation of higher education institutions.
“They provide governments with good arguments for their people to attend local universities rather than traveling abroad,” said Natasha Ridge, executive director at the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al-Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research in Ras Al-Khaimah, in a statement released on this occasion.
“The Kingdom is moving up in different rankings,” said Prof. Sultan Meo of King Saud University, while expressing his happiness. “The Gulf governments, including Saudi Arabia, have invested heavily in higher education and research during the last decade,” he said. In Saudi Arabia, $1.6 billion is earmarked for research and development in the next two years, significantly affecting the higher education sector within the framework of Vision 2030.
The Kingdom has also spent millions of dollars on creating first-class research universities, world-class colleges, schools, and teacher-training centers. It has occupied the top position for having the most trained teachers in primary and secondary education based on the Global Knowledge Index. This year’s index was presented at an event organized by the UN Development Program and the Regional Bureau for Arab States.