The Saudi Electronic University … a first step on a long road
Since the approval of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, may God save him, of the decree of the Council of Higher Education ordaining the establishment of the Saudi Electronic University, in the Royal Decree number 37409/B dated 10/09/1432 Hijri, step by step the university is being built. In our effort to fulfill his majesty’s aspirations to enable the SEU contribute to the building of Saudi knowledge society, we have been able, with the assistance from the Minister of Higher Education and his deputy, to translate his majesty’s aspirations into concrete reality, committing ourselves to spare no pain in order to take the SEU up to the level of advanced academic institutions in the field of e-learning and e-teaching.
It known that superpowers have moved away from the concept of being armed with industrial might to being armed with knowledge and thoughts, after the realization that in our world the future will be in the hands of the societies which can manipulate modern technologies and, at the same time, keep pace with the acceleration of the free influx of information and diverse communication, and handle the influences of these changes on individuals and societies. These changes will definitely have their repercussions for the Saudi society which has received paramount attention from the government since the unification of our precious country at the hand of the late King Abdulaziz bin Abdurrahman Al Saud, may God bless his soul, till the reign of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, may God save him.
The KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) has witnessed periods of development, construction and advancement in various sectors and areas, advancement which has brought a prosperous boom in the country, reflected in the life style of citizens, and manifested in the government's emphasis on investing in the rapidly developing and growing sectors including higher education which supervises academic institutions which are deemed to contribute to the development of the KSA, through qualifying learning outcomes capable of consolidating sustained economic and social development.
Information on its part is considered to be the fundamental resource for any human activity and a determining factor in relating the individual to his society, and the society to other societies. Accordingly, it has been realized that in order to raise the standards of academic institutions in the KSA, and in order to participate in reforming, educating and assisting society in the face of the challenges posed by an age of speedy technological changes affecting all aspects of our life, the Saudi government has worked to increase the budgetary allowances to the higher education sector. It has also increased the number of universities to reach 25 government universities, and it has opened higher education for the private sector, allowing it to build new universities and specialized colleges; this is in addition to the program of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques of sponsoring scholarships abroad for Saudi citizens who have already started to return home with high qualifications and expertise.
The SEU is the twenty-fifth government university, a university which adopts the vision of pioneering e-learning in the KSA, effectively contributing to the building of knowledge society, and conveying a pioneering civilized message to the people of Saudi Arabia. This will be fulfilled by adopting a message based on producing quality learning outcomes, and adopting distance learning utilizing advanced technologies to offer excellent opportunities for learners and to increase the efficiency and productivity of higher education institutions.
The SEU offers BA, Master, and doctorate degrees in specializations approved by the General Bylaws for Saudi Universities, and diplomas of professional programs customized to meet the needs of the local job market.
The SEU has three colleges:
1- The College of Administration and Finance which includes the following departments: The department of Business Administration, The Department of Finance, The Department of Accountancy, and The Department of E-Commerce.
2- The College of Computation and Informatics which includes the following departments: The Department of Computer Science, The Department of Information Technology, and The Department of Informatics.
3- The College of Medical Sciences which includes the following departments: The department of Medical Informatics and the Department of General Health.
The SEU has strategic plans for opening new branches in the regions of Qasem, Abha, Al-Juf in addition to the existing branches in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and AL-Medina Al-Munawarah. The existing branches have about 6.000 male and female students studying in various specializations needed in the Saudi job market. The SEU will endeavor to increase the number of intake and expand the map of specializations and quality of service, contributing to the progress and development in the KSA.
The SEU is also currently in contact with local and international accreditation bodies, to coordinate the transfer of academic knowledge and expertise to SEU and emphasize its academic message in raising the quality and standard of its learning outcomes, transferring pioneering knowledge, in collaboration with universities, academic institutions and faculty in Saudi Arabia and abroad. Inspired by its strategic goal of serving its community, and guided by the requirements for development in the KSA, the SEU is working to recruit qualified national academic staff, including graduate of the program of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, in the specializations relevant to SEU message. The university also supports volunteer and charity programs that serve Saudi society at large.
Recently, the SEU represented by the Department of Medical Informatics in the College of Health Sciences, has been accepted as a member of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA), upon the approval of IMIA general assembly recently held in Beijing. The membership will reinforce academic cooperation with IMIA in promoting research in medical informatics, and will assist the SEU in knowledge exchange with peer e-learning universities and well-established associations in the field of medical informatics and health research in and outside the KSA.
Finally, I would like to refer to an article published in The Guardian, the British newspapers, on 12/11/2012 by Carole Cadwalladr entitled “Does Studying through the Internet mean the end of traditional universities?” In the article, the writer highlighted the importance of the new mode of e-learning which will, according to specialists, be the dominant mode of leaning in the future, a future in which we will not see universities being established in various places. In this context came the establishment of the SEU responding to development in modern methods of instruction in the world and to the constant demands of the job markets.
D. Ibrahim bin Abdul-Aziz Almuaiqel