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Dr. Huda Mohammed Al-Ameel

SAUDI ARABIA - Health & Education

Female participation in labor market to rise to 30% by 2030

Rector, Princess Nourah University (PNU)

Bio

Dr. Huda Mohammed Al-Ameel has a PhD in early childhood education from the University of Wales in the UK and two master’s degrees in the same subject and in educational leadership from Western Michigan University. Prior to becoming rector of the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University in 2011 she served as deputy rector of Dar Al Uloom University. She was also vice rector and dean of the College of Education and Human Development in the same university, and had also worked in King Saud University since 1987.

TBY talks to Dr. Huda Mohammed Al-Ameel, Rector of Princess Nourah University (PNU), on expanding capacity, strategic planning, and expectations for the coming year.

How have you worked to cope with the expanded capacity since this campus opened in 2011?

PNU is an established university; the first college, the College of Education, was founded in 1972. For a time, the institution focused on preparing women to teach, and it was eventually transformed into a university with six colleges in Riyadh. It was called Riyadh University during that time in 2008. King Abdullah, our great former king, decided to establish this new campus and change the name to Princess Nourah University. Princess Nourah is the sister of King Abdulaziz, the founder of this great kingdom. She was a wise woman who supported and advised him, and she was passionate about educating women. When we moved to this new modern campus, we faced a huge challenge and a great responsibility. The expanded capacity means two dimensions. First, increasing the admission intakes without compromising quality. Secondly, changing the university theme to be educational-research based university. We had to be up to the standards of this campus and the expectations of our community. Therefore, we worked parallel into three major initiatives: staring a Preparatory Year Program, establishing new colleges namely health colleges and a community college, and finally launching new curricula in already established-colleges. Our plan to achieve the balance between expanding the admission capacity and maintaining quality of education was accomplished by launching these initiatives between PNU expertise with partnership of international experts and leading academic institutions. PNU strived to distinguish its students, faculty and colleges by adopting excellence in academic programs, empowering human capital, and enriching the research and innovation capacity. The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 has established extremely ambitious goals for education in the country, and it also addresses women’s empowerment and health specifically. We are glad that PNU is at the intersection of these fields, and we are working to do our part in achieving vision 2030.

Has the vision or the KPIs established in the NTP changed your approach to curriculum?

Indeed. We are glad that our recently launched 10-years strategic plan is very much aligned to Vision 2030 and NTP. In response to the vision’s mandate of increasing the participation rate of women in the labor market from 22% to 30%, PNU established very distinguished projects that serve the NTP directly. We launched the Women Business Park in partnership with Wipro and Saudi Aramco, the project aims at linking females academic progress with the economic growth by creating more than 20.000 job opportunities for Women by 2025. We also restructured our Graduate Programs to ensure delivering unique and competitive programs that meet the demands of the labor market. Our Graduate programs focus on certain majors such as Business Administration — entrepreneurship-, advanced nursing practices, and information managements of data analysis. Our programs are delivered in partnership of leading academic university which is Dublin City University allowing our students to obtain two degrees from PNU and from the international university DCU. In addition, PNU offers a high diploma program with the National Institute of Education in Singapore, to improve the qualification of females teachers around the Kingdom in teaching science, math, and English. Moreover, in term of Professional training for Saudi women, PNU is offering three professional diplomas in Retail, Security, and Child Care. These programs are offered with Paris Academy to ensure high quality training and empowering women in the labor market. In Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University we believe that the role of the university is to educate, research, and serve the community, and our focus towards advancing women in all aspects is a key that contributes to vision 2030.

Where do you stand on the running debate about how the curriculum should be adjusted to the immediate needs of employers?

We have a balanced understanding of this issue here at PNU. We believe that the market needs are changing constantly, and therefore we must be ahead of such changes by forecasting the future of jobs and developing the skills of our students. In term of the changing jobs opportunities, we are offering new academic disciplines and redesigning the existing curricula to meet the needs of the market. We also have put a significant effort to connect our students with the labor market by offering them training and internship opportunities. Moreover, PNU focuses on lifelong learning skills that will equip the students for challenging endeavors in their future careers.

What do you see ahead in your short to medium-term plans, and what are your expectations for the next 12 months?

We shall continue to work on our strategic plan focusing in graduating distinguished female students, and building up our research centers and its capacity. Our realistic strategic plan is the pathway for the next 12 months to work on the existing projects and developing new initiatives. We also shall work to achieve financial suitability through diversifying our investment resources.

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