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The personal and professional benefits and challenges for Saudi academics after postgraduate study abroad: Implications for higher education reform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Pikos-Sallie, Toni Joanne (2018) The personal and professional benefits and challenges for Saudi academics after postgraduate study abroad: Implications for higher education reform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Professional Doctorate thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

The King Abdullah Scholarships Program commenced in 2005 and replaced all previous government scholarship programs in Saudi Arabia. This led to a dramatic increase in the number of Saudi citizens studying abroad, with over 200,000 Saudis, male and female, receiving their bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from overseas universities through this program. Currently, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, respectively, host the largest numbers of sponsored Saudi students.

This study focuses on Saudi academics who completed their postgraduate studies abroad and returned to work at public universities in Saudi Arabia. Its purpose is to broaden current knowledge of the personal and professional benefits and challenges experienced by Saudi academics after postgraduate study abroad and the implications of these for the project of higher education reform in Saudi Arabia. The data for this qualitative study were drawn from in-depth interviews with nine Saudi academics, five males and four females. This study examines both etic and emic perspectives and provides a detailed and oftentimes privileged analysis of participants’ experiences before, during and after postgraduate study abroad.

The gains of study abroad for participants included: increased independence and confidence, particularly for females; intercultural competence; higher salaries and rapid promotions; improved English language skills; improved pedagogical awareness and practice; and, increased research knowledge and skills. Challenges for participants included: reverse culture shock; obstacles to producing quality research; and, resistance to change. Based on the findings, implications for the way forward in Saudi higher education are discussed to assist the Kingdom’s Ministry of Higher Education and public-sector universities to further capitalise on the knowledge and skills that sponsored academics bring home from abroad. The study also contributes to a growing body of research related to the use and efficacy of postgraduate study abroad to improve higher education in emerging economies.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
United Nations SDGs: Goal 4: Quality Education
Supervisor(s): McConney, Andrew and Norris, Lindy
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/42753
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