Higher education plays an important role in promoting economic growth in a country by supplying a skilled and innovative workforce. Since the discovery of oil in 1938, Saudi Arabia has experienced tremendous economic growth owing to its large oil reserves. The Saudi government has over the years invested heavily in the structuring of educational policies that can respond to the high demand of professional workforce both in the public and private sectors. Furthermore, Onsman (2010) explains that there is a growing need for the country to diversify its resources by investing on social services such as education. Environmental economists argue that it risky, from environmental and economical perspective, for a country to depend on a given line of resources. One of the metric used to asses economic development in a given country is the effectiveness of the country in promoting the growth of human resources. Therefore, for any developing economy such as Suadi Arabia the role of higher education in promoting development cannot be overemphasized.
Education systems in the west are currently ranked top a fact that is evidenced by the large number of foreign students all over the world seeking education in these institutions. Since the time of Greek philosophers such as Aristotle, scholars have always argued that education thrives in a liberal environment that promotes free thinking, innovation and invention with no restrictions whatsoever from the political class, and such is the major driver for success in higher education in western countries. From 2003, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia began a top notch restructuring of its higher education as a way of investing in human resources. However, the country has a long way to go before it can nurture the quality of its high education to compete favorably in the global scholarship arena. It is against this background that the paper seeks to assess the effectiveness of educational policies in Saudi Arabia in responding to developmental issues, and how these policies compare with educational policies in the United States (Zvika, 2007).
The paper will begin by justifying the relevance of the discourse through a background study, before discussing the similarities and difference in education systems between the two countries. Furthermore, the paper will also look at the strength and weaknesses of educational policies between the US and Saudi Arabia, before discussing emerging issues.
1.1 Background to the Study
Current approaches in globalization are increasingly putting pressure on higher education to meet global demands in the market place, by improving effeciency and value through innovation and inventions driven by studies that seek to find solutions to global challenges. According to Hoffman (2013), there is a serious need for educational policies that will repsond to new demands and emerging global challenges. The situation of Saudi Arabia presents a unique environment where despite being endowed by huge...