Your immediate reaction to the news that the Saudi government is planning to invest in online education might be “so what?”
I’ll get to that in a minute.
The Saudi Gazette quotes a top government official:
“There has been remarkable change in the concept of the future of education before and after the outbreak of the pandemic. We need to focus more on investing in the positive results achieved in distance education and developing its programs and plans in future,” he said.
So, why does this matter? First, Arab News reports the Saudis spend more money on education than any other nation. Those dollars include a commitment to creating leading international universities; so far, only one — King Abdulaziz University, located in the western city of Jeddah — is ranked among the top 250 universities in the world.
Without question, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, has designs on increasing Saudi Arabia’s presence in the international education arena.
Saudi Arabia sends about 37,000 of its college-aged students to U.S. universities (I don’t have the data for the number of students studying in other countries); only four other nations send more to the U.S. Those students pay full tuition and fees, as do all international students, and those dollars are significant especially at smaller colleges and universities.
If the Kingdom determines that remote instruction has made sufficient strides to allow for those college students to major in online programs, imagine the financial repercussions. The Kingdom could demand lower tuition rates, say what domestic students pay. It could consider other nations as “destinations” for its students, whose spending power would remain inside the country.
Remember, too, the Vision 2030 project is based, in part, on improving the overall quality of education within the Kingdom.