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MoE seeking public opinion on opening Saudi branches of foreign universities Academic excellence is on top among the criteria
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 11 - 08 - 2022

JEDDAH — The Ministry of Education is seeking the views and opinions of the public with regard to the regulations to establish branches of premier foreign universities in Saudi Arabia, Okaz/Saudi Gazette has learnt.
The move is aimed at further developing the Kingdom's university education system and scientific research, as well as diversifying the options for university education, while preserving the national identity of Saudi students.
The ministry seeks to provide educational programs that meet the requirements of development and community service, within the framework of university education policies and strategies. There are 24 articles in the regulations that govern the opening of foreign university branches in the Kingdom.
The most important among these articles is the formation of a permanent committee to carry out studies on the requests for the establishment of branches of foreign universities. According to the article, the establishment of a foreign university branch shall be with the approval of the Cabinet. This will be based on the recommendation of the Saudi University Affairs Council with a condition that the foreign university is one of the academically distinguished universities in accordance with the criteria determined by the council.
The regulations specified the methodology to submit a request to establish a branch of the university and its legal representative to the ministry together with information about the foreign university. The relevant information about the university such as its name; headquarters; date of its founding; the specializations it offers; its aspects of excellence; and its other branches shall be furnished.
The information shall also include details of the study that prove the feasibility of the branch's establishment; the statute of the university branch; a statement about its faculties, departments or institutes; research units, and scientific specializations; and the proposed date of commencing study.
There should be an undertaking to ensure the quality of all study programs offered at the university branch as applied by the foreign university in its home country.
The university should also present a pledge to submit a certificate from an accredited engineering body in the Kingdom stating that the installations and facilities of the university branch shall be in compliance with the standards and requirements approved in the Kingdom for similar facilities. The university branch should also fully adhere to the purpose for which it was established as well as to the regulations that are in force in the Kingdom.
The chairman of the University Affairs Council may add any other requirements or make exceptions to the requirements contained in this article. The bylaws of the university branch must include the name of the branch and its headquarters; the legal entity representing the branch; the councils that will manage the branch and the methodology of their formation, and the organizational structure. It shall also include the internal rules regulating academic and administrative affairs, the academic system, and financial resources.
The university's request should also include information such as the beginning and end of the fiscal year; the internal financial control mechanism; the rules to be followed when the branch is voluntarily dissolved; the procedures for liquidation, and the entity to which its funds go. The foreign university or its legal representative shall complete the legal procedures for establishing the legal entity of the branch inside the Kingdom after the approval of the Council of Ministers for its establishment.
The Ministry of Education shall issue the license to the university branch after ensuring that the necessary requirements are met in accordance with the provisions of the bylaw and its executive rules. The ministry will be supervising the university branch, and it has the authority to recommend approval of a request to amend the statute and submit it to the council. The ministry can recommend the approval of the establishment, abolition or merging of faculties and submit them to the council. It has to approve the appointment and change of the top officials of the university branch. The ministry shall also approve the addition of academic programs for licensing, and the establishment of scientific events.
The first official of the university branch shall be responsible to the chairman of the University Affairs Council.
The Ministry has determined the medium of instruction in the university branch, and that is the first language approved in the foreign university, unless the recommendation to approve the establishment of the university branch includes provision of education in another language.
The academic certificates granted by the university branch to its graduates must be issued and authenticated by the foreign university in the name of its branch. All employees of the university branch shall be subjected to the Labor Law regulations in the Kingdom, and the university branch shall provide the necessary financial guarantees in accordance with what is decided by the executive rules of the regulations.
The regulations stipulated that the university branch should have an annual budget, and the branch should have regular financial registries, in accordance with the accounting standards approved in the Kingdom. The annual financial statements of the university branch shall be audited by an external auditor licensed to operate in the Kingdom.
The University Affairs Council, by a decision, determines the fee (financial compensation) for issuing, renewing and amending the license for the university branch, as well as for adding academic programs and other services provided to it. The council determines the executive rules of the university regulation and the necessary procedures and controls in this regard.
The university branch shall obtain institutional accreditation from the Saudi Education and Training Evaluation Commission, and works to achieve program accreditation from the commission or from one of the bodies approved by the commission. It is not permissible for a university branch to suspend its activity or to amend its statutes except after the approval of the council. When the activity of a university branch falters, the council has the right to take all the necessary decisions and measures to ensure the students' completion of courses.
The regulations also specify violations of their provisions and penalties for the violations. The procedures for considering them will be in accordance with what is decided by the University Affairs Council. According to the regulations, the courts in the Kingdom are the competent judicial authorities to settle any disputes in which the university branch or one of its employees is a party.

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