Developing A Plan For Saudi Arabian Women's Higher Education

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education


James F. Collins


Higher education

Subject Categories

Higher Education Administration


This study had two fundamental purposes. The first was to gather data concerning the past and present state of women's higher education in Saudi Arabia, and to explore the nature of the problems confronting Saudi Arabian women seeking higher education in their own country. The second purpose of the study was to make suggestions for possible improvements in the existing structure, and by using the information collected, suggest a plan for the future of higher education for women in Saudi Arabia.

The design which was utilized to assemble the necessary data for the study consisted of: (1) a thorough review of literature concerning the higher education of women in Saudi Arabia and related historical subjects regarding higher education in three other countries, Great Britain, the United States, and Egypt; (2) a questionnaire designed to obtain firsthand information from students, faculty and administrators presently affiliated with women's higher education institutions in Saudi Arabia, and (3) structured interviews with selected students and staff presently involved in these programs.

The study sample involved 140 senior women students presently enrolled in women's higher education institutions in Saudi Arabia, 23 faculty members, and 37 administrators at these women's institutions. All of the participants completed a written questionnaire which had been submitted to them by the researcher. A sample, selected from names on an alphabetical list (every 2nd staff member; every 3rd student), participated in the structured interviews which were conducted by the researcher.

The data yielded information about the present status of Saudi Arabian women's education, and about the status desired for such education by the study participants. The discrepancy between these two conditions defined a needs assessment for Saudi Arabian women's education. These needs are summarized as follows: (1) societal problems exist in Saudi Arabia and changes must occur in that society's attitudes toward women; (2) women's colleges should be administratively independent from men's universities, with more women being prepared to hold top administrative and teaching positions; (3) because of a critical shortage of qualified faculty, separation of men and women, at least at the administrative and faculty levels, should be eliminated; (4) the existing curriculum must be diversified so that women can be educated to deal with life problems; (5) instructional and content focus also require diversification, such as introducing the study of the principal Western languages and implementing new instruction strategies. More appropriate student performance assessment systems should be developed to measure student progress; (6) a general upgrading of the physical facilities (classrooms, library and research facilities, laboratories) must be undertaken. In addition, an upgrading of the textbooks, reading and research materials, and laboratory equipment available to students is necessary; (7) the admissions system requires redefining so that qualified students receive the opportunity for higher education; (8) while the existing graduate study programs are inadequate, undergraduate programs should receive priority funding and attention in order to upgrade them, making them equivalent to their counterparts in other nations; (9) at present, degree requirements are adequate to the students' needs; however, a general upgrading of the higher education system will further enhance the quality of the degrees awarded from Saudi Arabian women's institutions.


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