The Saudi Cultural Bureau has initiated a number of meetings with the academic leadership of British universities, in order to develop programmes of Saudi-British research and academic partnerships in various fields including postgraduate offers of admissions, professional internships, supporting joint scientific research , academic classification and accreditation , joint supervision, language training courses and joint training.
This approach would be to conclude the discussions started by the Bureau during meetings with a number of British universities last March in the British capital London, headed by Dr Abdulaziz Bin Ali Almagushi. The cultural attaché pointed out that it is planned that the new Bureau strategy of academic and research partnerships would conclude comprehensive Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with British universities and research institutions to ensure standardization of procedures and follow up in addition to aligning, unifying and standardising processes of financial dealings, according to confirmed and published standards. He stressed that, after the first phase of this strategy, we would a co-ordinate with all sponsoring, training and scientific research institutions in Saudi Arabia to enter into bi-lateral partnership agreements with British universities and research institutions, through secondary agreements that fall under the comprehensive Memoranda of understanding, while the Cultural Bureau will continue to play its coordinating role between the different parties of the secondary agreements to provide them with the logistic and communication support and to supply them with the information that would help them to conclude partnerships among them, in addition to monitoring the implementation of these agreements to ensure sustainability.
Dr Almagushi added that in formulating all the new Memoranda of Understandings relevant to British universities and research institutions, consideration will be given to contributing to the implementation of programmes of building capabilities of Saudi sponsors and training and research institutions, through developing of joint academic programmes, programmes of academic accreditation, joint curricula, offering joint programmes, joint supervision for PhD research and exchange and transfer of expertise and knowledge throught training and staff exchange.
The cultural attaché pointed out that the initial phase of the Cultural Bureau new academic partnerships relevant to British universities will be based on the understanding that they adopt a new system of offers in PhD programmes, where the Bureau would link offers of admission to study PhD programmes at British universities to research that is relevant to the needs of the Kingdom, while ensuring that they conform academically and financially to the core standards adopted by the Research Council UK. The new organisation would also ensure the continuity of work on post-doc research through agreements with universities and Saudi research centres to allow PhD graduates to continue to carry out their research under the supervision of British universities with the co-operation of the concerned Saudi universities and research institutions, which will in turn promote the culture of research sustainability.
Dr Almagushi added that one of the main topics in the academic partnerships negotiations during its present phase is a commitment from British universities to secure yearly quota for Saudi students in medicine and in rare disciplines at undergraduate level, in addition to providing internships at UK hospitals to Saudi doctors who graduate from British universities. He pointed out that the Cultural Bureau has in fact reached some substantial understanding in the regard including an understanding with The School of Medical Sciences at the University of Manchester to schedule some of the programmes in medicine for undergraduates and MSc students for 2017. They include the following courses: nursing, intensive care, pharmacy, radiology, sports medicine, physiotherapy, nutrition science, diabetes and other medical courses. All these courses would end with the implementation of clinical training programmes at UK hospitals, as an integral part of the academic plan of these courses. He added that drafting of a comprehensive MoU between both parties is underway and it would be signed in the coming weeks. Both parties have also agreed that the comprehensive MoU shall include allocation of offers of admission yearly to a specific number of Saudi students in medical courses according to an academic path designed to meet the requirements of the study of medicine at the university. The implementation of MoU will start at the beginning of the 2018 academic year and would include all the details of the academic plan and the requirements of how to progress within those plans.