|Tens of thousands of students have graduated and passed through the portals of King Saud University in Riyadh.|
"Read! In the name of thy Lord and Cherisher "
These words, taken from the first direct revelation to Prophet Muhammad, are to be found inscribed on an imposing ceramic structure in the form of an open book at the main entrance of the campus of King Saud University in Riyadh. They bear a lasting testimony to the policy of the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of promoting education with Islamic content.
This unique blend of religious and secular education has lent a distinctive flavor to King Saud University, which was established in 1957. Before it moved to its present site, Riyadh University (as it was then known) was located in the heart of the capital in the district of Malaz. The growing student population necessitated the shift at the beginning of the academic year 1984-85 to the present campus, which was constructed over a ten-year period on the outskirts of Riyadh at Dariyah, near the site of the capital of the First Saudi State in the 18th century. The construction of this campus is one of the major educational feats implemented by the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz.
Spread over an area of 2,224 acres of land, King Saud University (KSU) prides itself on being the oldest and the largest university in the Kingdom. Today, KSU has an enrollment of 50,000 students and a teaching staff of 1,500. Student enrollment has been growing annually at the rate of 10 percent, according to Dr. Ali Al-Onaizi, who is Supervisor of the General Administration for Information and University Relations.
The University's President is Dr. Abdullah Ibn Mohammed Al-Faisal, with Dr. Ibrahim Ibn Abdulrahman Al-Mishaal as Vice President and Dr. Khalid Ibn Abdullah Ibn Mugren as the Supervisor of General Administration and Finance. Dr. Khalid Ibn Abdulrahman Al-Hamoud is the Vice President for Research and Higher Studies.
King Saud University has played an important educational role in Saudi Arabia. Being the oldest, it developed a framework for the seven other universities that have followed. From a modest beginning in 1957, with one college - the Faculty of Arts - the number of colleges has grown over the years to include: Arts, Science, Pharmacy, Administrative Sciences, Engineering, Agriculture, Education, Medicine, Dentistry, Applied Medical Sciences, Architecture and Urban Planning, Computer and Information Sciences, Languages and Translation, Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. In addition, there are satellite colleges in Qassim Province and in Jizan. At the postgraduate level, the University currently awards Master's degrees in Arabic Language, History, Geography, Social Studies, English Language and Archaeology.
The university aims at creating a proper atmosphere for higher education for its students by deploying highly qualified staff and developing educational programs in tune with the changing times. This provides graduates with a solid scientific background enabling them to be an asset from their first day of employment. The KSU has the objective of maintaining continuous contacts with Arab, Islamic and international universities by participating in conferences and symposia, and by holding exhibitions and seminars. It also seeks to maintain permanent contact with Saudi society through debates, meetings, training courses and visits designed to achieve this goal.
Academic activities at KSU are also available for Saudi girls. They can enroll in the colleges of Arts, Education, Agriculture, Pharmacy, Science, Administrative Sciences, Medicine, Dentistry, Applied Medical Sciences, Languages and Translation at the Riyadh campus, as well as Economics at the Qassim campus. The Center for University-Level Studies for Women Students, located at Ulesha in the western part of Riyadh, was established in 1976 to supervise arrangements for women's studies, to provide the necessary library and office supplies, and to oversee examinations, as well as to participate in the appointment of female staff members in coordination with the concerned colleges. Higher education for women began in 1961 with correspondence courses set up in the College of Arts and the College of Science. Gradually, more courses were added and the enrollments grew, eventually necessitating a separate educational facility for women. In the spring of 1982, 3,416 women registered at the Center. This figure tripled to over 10,000 during the 1997/1998 academic year.
The Arabic Language Institute was set up in 1974 with 100 students. It offers courses in Arabic for non-Arabic speakers under the supervision of the Arabic Department of King Saud University. It also trains teachers who teach Arabic to non-Arabic speakers and conducts related research.
The College of Economics and Administration in Qassim, to the north of Riyadh Province, is an affiliate of KSU. At present there are five departments offering courses: Economics, Business Management, Accounting, Quantitative Methods and Public Administration, with specializations available for Bachelor's Degrees in Economics, Accounting, Business Administration and Quantitative Methods. The College has a Computer Center, Library, English language laboratories, closed-circuit television, and a Human Resources Research Center.
The College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, also in Qassim Province, is another affiliate of KSU. It has adopted an objective and scientific approach in developing its curriculum for both the short and the long term to enable it to keep up with the latest developments in its specialization and to compete with similar colleges. There are eight departments: Animal Husbandry, Agricultural Economics, Horticulture and Forestry, Soil and Irrigation, Agricultural Engineering, Plant Protection, Crops and Herbs, and Veterinary Medicine. Specializations available for degree courses include Agricultural Economics, Plant Protection, Animal Husbandry, Horticulture and Forestry, and Agricultural Engineering.
In Jizan, in the extreme southwest of the Kingdom, there is a Community College that is also affiliated with KSU.
King Saud University is renowned for its scientific research. Most staff members are highly active in conducting research, both theoretical and applied. The University stimulates scientific research by making centers available at each University college, with an annual budget appropriation, and a board of directors presided over by college deans whereby all departments are represented. The board of directors takes upon itself the responsibility to study, approve and support research projects referred to it and to arrange for external assistance for large projects, in particular applied research that would be of benefit nationwide. KSU strives to assist researchers by awarding prizes for the best research at department, college and university levels. All research papers prepared by staff members are subject to scientific arbitration, whether published in King Saud University journals or in other external scientific journals. KSU also encourages its staff members to attend relevant scientific conferences in order to keep them in touch with recent developments in their fields and to improve their track record in terms of innovations and research.
A computer center is run by the College of Computer and Information Sciences. The college has several computer labs and other equipment which provide higher learning opportunities for students in this field. Another computer center is run by the College of Engineering in the Electrical Engineering Department. There is also an active Student Computer Club, where students can receive computer training throughout the academic courses held at various levels. The use of computer technology is fostered among students through this club, while professionals are also encouraged to conduct research and develop innovations in the computer field. With the introduction of Internet service early this year, the options for research have increased.
Facilities on the KSU Campus include more than 1,800 scientific labs, some of which are used for teaching purposes while the rest are dedicated to scientific research. The labs are supplied with various types of scientific equipment to serve the needs of students and researchers, and Saudi society in general. In addition, information systems have been developed to serve the University's administrative and scientific needs as well as to facilitate admission and registration, financial activities and manpower and health services.
King Saud University also has a Seismological Geophysical Observatory, which receives data from 20 stations spread all over the Kingdom. This observatory records and analyzes data and supplies researchers with information they require. The Desert Studies Center conducts ecological and weather surveys connected with desert environment and problems related to dry arid regions and desertification.
The Information Center has audio and TV network systems that cover all university units, and there is an extension that connects with the campus of the Center for University-Level Studies for Women Students at Ulesha. The audio system links all university units with the information center through 32 direct TV channels.
The University Press is highly sophisticated and prints a number of publications in the fields of medicine, sciences and the arts. These include scientific research publications approved by the Scientific Council of King Saud University as well as scientific, social and cultural journals. Other publications include the weekly university newspaper ''Risalat Al-Jamiya," manuals, reports, and leaflets.
With such a vast array of facilities, KSU has not only been serving the needs of higher education with great distinction but has also been functioning as an integral part of Saudi society. This is exemplified by University Week, which brings students and prospective employers together on a common platform. As a result of this interaction, many Saudi students have landed satisfying jobs in line with the University's policy to promote Saudization.
On another level, the university has twice organized a Children's Festival. The objective behind this festival, in which both public and private sector organizations participate, is to create an awareness of children's educational needs and also to encourage their creative genius.
As the Kingdom celebrates its centennial, KSU has dedicated itself to the country's educational policy by blending quality with a well-defined focus in its curricular program for a better future for the younger generation.