(Saudi Gazette): Foreigners account for 40 percent of teaching staff at Saudi universities, according to sources at the Education Ministry. The revelation has prompted
Shoura Council members to accuse some universities of preferring foreign teachers after sidelining qualified Saudis.
Meanwhile, unemployed Saudis have launched a campaign on Twitter to turn government attention with a hashtag titled “Unemployed with postgraduate degrees.” Nada Al-Zahrani, the campaign’s organizer said they wanted the universities to replace foreign teachers with Saudis.
“They should restrict appointment of foreigners to scientists and researchers,” she told Okaz/Saudi Gazette. According to the latest report, the number of unemployed among Saudis holding higher education degrees reached 1.2 percent from a total of 657,000.
The campaign led by a number of young Saudi men and women wanted university authorities to change employment conditions. The move comes after a senior ministry official informed that there would not be any big change in the new university employment regulations.
“Our aim is to realize the objectives of Vision 2030,” said Al-Zahrani, adding that some campaign members had wasted six years looking for jobs at Saudi universities due to difficult conditions.
“We want authorities to change the arbitrary regulations and conditions, ensuring justice and opportunities for qualified Saudis,” she explained.
The campaign leaders emphasized the need to activate the resolutions taken by the Cabinet and the Civil Service Ministry with regard to employment of expatriate workers. They wanted to change the existing cooperation law to a one-year training contract. After completing one year foreign contract workers will be either terminated from job or allowed to continue in their work.
The campaign leaders stressed that employment of Saudis in academic posts should be done transparently and that they should be given priority over expats.
“Authorities should find ways and means to make use of the expertise and knowledge of Saudis holding master and doctorate degrees,” Al-Zahrani said.
She said some universities were misusing a condition set by the Higher Education Council in 1417H that appointment would be carried out on the basis of “other conditions” set by the university council.
“They often use this condition to discard Saudi applicants saying they are not qualified looking into specialization in all levels of education, bachelor degree grade, experience, age, specific training courses and published research works,” she pointed out.
Al-Zahrani insisted that Saudi universities should have employed Saudis considering their minimum qualifications and should have taken into consideration the Civil Service regulations in employment of foreign workers in universities.
She said Saudi universities were recruiting teaching staff from Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Tunisia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh ignoring employment regulations that give priority to Saudis.
“These foreigners are appointed as associate professors while there are qualified Saudis to fill those positions,” she said. They give weak reasons for employment of foreigners such as the need to maintain diversity of cultures and can be terminated easily.
She said in some departments the number of foreigners exceeded that of Saudis.
Al-Zahrani said the shortage of jobs at universities occurred due to extension given to Saudi and foreign professors citing there are no qualified Saudis to fill those positions. She also accused universities of not following a unified system for employment.
The campaign leaders have made a number of proposals to reduce unemployment among highly qualified Saudis. “The authority of employment should be taken away from departments and it should be done through the National Employment Gateway,” she said. The ministry should prepare data bank of qualified Saudis to employ whenever any vacancy arises.
“Coordination is required between the Finance and Civil Service to employ unemployed Saudis holding master and doctorate degrees,” Al-Zahrani pointed out. “We also propose setting up of research centers to create jobs for such higher education graduates,” she added.