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Title: A virtual university model for higher education in Saudi Arabia
Authors: Al-Sherhri, Mansour Ali S.
Keywords: Saudi Arabia
Higher education
Virtual university model
Issue Date: 2003
Publisher: © Mansour Ali Al-Shehri
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to investigate the feasibility, practicality and desirability of establishing a virtual university using Internet-based technology in Saudi Arabia. The intention would be to deliver higher education in order to accommodate the rapid growth in the number of secondary school graduates. This is regarded as one of the most important challenges currently facing higher education institutions, particularly universities in the Kingdom. The questionnaire in this study was designed to obtain respondents' views in relation to the proposed model. It was distributed to 996 teaching members (male and female) at three major universities: KSU, IMIU and KAU. The number of questionnaires returned was 538; this represents about 57% of the total sample. The majority of respondents (about 67.7%; N= 364) suggested that establishing a virtual university in Saudi Arabia was appropriate to meet the increasing demand for higher education. Group B represented the highest percentages of agreement at around 92.7%, while Group A represented nearly 60.2%. In contrast, the remaining 32.3% of the total number of respondents believed that there are alternative available solutions that can be utilised in order to overcome this problem. Almost 19.0% stated that they would like the private sector to take its responsibility seriously and begin autonomously, or collaboratively with the Saudi government, to construct more traditional colleges and universities in all regions of the Kingdom. Around 51.1% were in favour of the MI-IE, on behalf of the Saudi government, taking full control of higher education provision, introducing more traditional public colleges and universities throughout the Kingdom. Finally, almost 29.9% appreciated any effort made by the current traditional universities to increase their capacity to absorb more students now and in the future. Interviews were carried out in order to gain respondents' opinions on the overall situation. These interviews were composed of two sets: the first set was conducted with various decision-makers at the HESC, the MMHE, KSU, INIIU, and KAU. The second set was conducted with the Director of IU at KACST, the Manager of Internet Services at STC, and one representative of the ISPs in the Kingdom. The outcomes revealed that, in recent times, the higher education system in general and universities in particular have encountered, in addition to the rising number of secondary school graduates who wish to pursue higher education, other problems such as a lack of equal educational opportunities, a lack of educational quality, increased drop-out rates and a lack of interest in learning by some students, a lack of well-forged and mutual relationships between universities and the private sector, and so on. The application of SSNI, which made use of the results of the questionnaires and interviews, determined and confirmed the improvements needed to surmount these limitations. The proposed system encompasses strategic planning, content, communication technology and relevant systems for central support. Each part of the system was logically built to carry out certain activities that work in harmony with the others in order to achieve the mission of the entire system. The study concluded that a virtual university was both systematically desirable and culturally feasible; therefore, recommendations were made for its implementation.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/6973
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Information Science)

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