Sunday 9 September 2012
Last Update 10 September 2012 4:07 am
JEDDAH: A number of Saudi university professors expressed concern for not having sufficient funding resources required for scientific research. Although several universities have scientific research centers, their funding is not sufficient compared to the massive budgets that international universities allocate for their research projects.
Local universities in general have witnessed academic advancements in all fields of study. Their numbers have also grown to cover every region. The number of government universities stands at 24, the largest of which are Riyadh’s King Saud University, Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz University and King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals in the Eastern Province. There are nine private universities including Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University in Alkhobar, Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah and Al-Yamamah University in Riyadh.
Saudi universities are seeking to advance their international positions through their current support of Saudi mind’s inventions and innovations, although they are in need of more support by those in charge of higher education and scientific research in the country to accomplish more successes in more fields.
A model example of Saudi universities’ abilities is the patent for using nanotechnology to increase the concentration of Phosphate. University of Tabuk has obtained the patent in cooperation with a Polish university. The innovation contributed to providing high-quality row phosphate and large profits. Frouq Al-Khateeb, economics professor at King Abdul Aziz University, said universities’ budgets for scientific research were insufficient. “Most university budgets go to meet salaries, maintenance and other routine expenses, while proportions spent on scientific research constitute 12 to 15 percent of budgets.”
“As a result of low budgets, universities select only 30 out of 50 research projects presented by academics,” he said. “Funding for research projects is provided in installments which are often delayed at the point of writing the research.” He said that many students’ efforts to get patents required massive funding. There was need for partnerships with the private sector, he said.
Yaseen Al-Jifri, former dean of Prince Sultan College for Tourism & Business Jeddah, said so far there had not been an industry “that believes in research that results in invented and innovative products. The private sector still believes in improving production lines without creating new products, and it considers funding research a largely expensive issue,” he said.
In an earlier report, Saudi Cultural Attaché in Canada, Faisal Abalkhail, speaking on two types of Saudi universities, said there were “the old ones who have detailed scientific research and future programs, and the new developing ones that are eager to strike partnerships with pioneering educational institutions around the world and who seek to secure long-term funding for their scientific projects (now and in the future),”
Saudi Cultural Attaché in Japan Muhannad Al-Othman said technology development and scientific research were important tools for any nation that seeks advancement. Saudi Arabia spends 27 percent of its government spending on education. “Also on research and development, government spending is increasing — in the past it was only 0.1 percent of the gross domestic product, but is now 0.7 percent, and according to the National Science & Technology Plan, it will reach about 1.6 percent in 2020, and about 2 percent in 2025.” Al-Othman said.
Care for research centers and techno valleys in universities in Dhahran, Jeddah and Riyadh were also increasing, he said, adding that these tools “will have their fruits to benefit the country in due time.”
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