More funds for research needed

More funds for research needed
Updated 15 September 2012

More funds for research needed

More funds for research needed

The lack of sufficient funding and red tape are the major obstacles in the path of scientific research at Saudi universities, scholars and intellectuals across the country have said.
Al-Madinah Arabic daily conducted a study on scientific research at the Kingdom’s universities, which revealed that there are very few research works in the country compared to developed nations. However, at the same time a gradual increase can be seen recently.
Othman bin Saleh Al-Amer, rector of Hail University for Higher Studies and Scientific Research, said that comparison in the field of scientific research consisted of five points: establishing specialized research centers, full support of professors dedicated to scientific research and exploiting their ability for the same, followers of the inventions from government and private agencies that are ready to accept the recommendations and proposals made by the researcher, having a clear-cut and dynamic research plan, and the recognition of the society as well as media marketing for the researcher and his works.
He explained that the developed countries provided specialized research centers and the accreditation of the universities based on their interest in scientific research. “It is not fair to include Saudi universities in one category and judge them blindly; they vary based on their history and scientific researches. It is not wise to compare a university at a beginning stage with a full-fledged one,” he said.
Al-Amer praised the Ministry of Education for its efforts in support of scientific research and the creation of specialized centers and chairs.
Abdul Wahab Shameelan, assistant professor of business administration, said that the universities had not been supporting scientific research as required. They do not provide sufficient incentives for faculty members and researchers compared to the financial support in Western countries, he said.
“According to a World Bank report, Israel, a small country in population and area, spends more on research works than all Arab countries. The average fund of Israel for scientific research is about 4.6 percent of GDP, while all Arab states spend 1.2 percent.
Mansour bin Nayef Al-Otaibi, dean of education at Najran University, said the scientific researches in Arab universities had zigzag aims that lost their importance on both intellectual and social sides.
“There might be several psychological, social, administrative and economic reasons for this phenomenon, such as the lack of cooperation from competent authorities, lack of adequate funding and the absence of a culture of applying the research results in solving problems or the nation’s development,” he added.
Sulaiman bin Naser Al-Thuwainy, dean of scientific research at Hail University, said that a number of research works had been done recently at different universities. King Saud University is at the top with 1,700 research works, King Abdulaziz University ranked second with 549 researches, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals has published 439 researches, Taif University has 155 researches, King Faisal University has 99 scientific papers, King Khaled University published 75 researches, Umm Al-Qura University has 62 research works, and Qassim University has published 59 research papers in scientific journals.
“These figures confirm that Saudi universities have jumped forward in the way of scientific research with outstanding quality,” he said.
Al-Thuwainy demanded more support and an appropriate environment for scientific research, stressing the importance of more incentives and funds in order to raise the quality of scientific research.
A number of cultural attachés in embassies revealed their opinion on the topic.
Saudi Cultural Attaché in Canada Faisal Abalkhail said that Saudi universities were divided into two. First, the prestigious, oldest universities with detailed research programs and a clear vision to the future; secondly, the emerging universities that seek successful partnerships with international educational institutions for research projects.
He mentioned that many Western universities are eager to start research centers in the Kingdom.
Muhannad Al-Othman Bukhari, the Saudi cultural attaché in Japan, said scientific research and technological development had become one of the important tools for any society seeking renaissance and progress.
“Saudi Arabia spends 27 percent of government expenditure on education, while some other countries such as France, Germany and Japan allocate funds that do not exceed 9 percent,” he said.
He added that in the past the Kingdom’s allocation for research works had been only 0.15 percent, which had now risen to 0.75 percent. The comprehensive national policy for science and technology requires a fund of 1.6 percent of GNP in 2020 and 2 percent in 2025.
“The expansion of research centers at Saudi universities and promotion of technical valleys in Dhahran, Riyadh and Jeddah are going on,” Al-Bukhari said.
Saudi Cultural Attaché of Korea Thurki bin Fahd Al-Eyar said that within a specific time the country had to reach a position that Western universities had already reached.
Saleh bin Hamad Al-Saqri, the cultural attaché in China, stressed that the scientific research at Saudi universities in this period had undergone a stunning and dramatic change from the past, noting that the Kingdom’s development depended on scientific researches.
Sattam bin Bukait Al-Otaibi, the cultural attaché in New Zealand, said scientific research in the Kingdom had improved greatly during the last five years as a result of the great support of the government of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and his academic scholarship to study at Western universities.