KFUPM has always been and continues to maintain its position as the elite university of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is recognized both nationally and internationally as a leading academic and research institution. In the last five years, the university concentrated on further improving the quality of its academic programs and offerings as a primary objective of its transformation. As a result, it achieved several milestones that propelled it to international recognition. KFUPM jumped from number 186 to 160 in QS world university rankings in 2 years. And to continue this progression, KFUPM is continuously taking measures to boost its quality of education, as discussed below.
New Programs and New Ways of Teaching/Learning
Launching 38 new undergraduate concentrations (CX) represent an innovative and critically important component of KFUPM’s strategy to benefit the Kingdom. By adding a component of specialization to its undergraduate programs, concentrations prepare the students to hit the ground running (as soon as they graduate) and be able to integrate effectively, robustly, and quickly into the workforce of any organization. Through this program, students learn not only the basics of their discipline but also a certain area of specialization on which they focus to gain a concentration in that topic. For example, a student would graduate with a Degree in Computer Science and a concentration in Cybersecurity. Students would have learned enough in Computer Science and satisfied all the requirements of that major. Additionally, students would also have specialized knowledge in the area of Cybersecurity, thus they can integrate much faster into cybersecurity work environments. This program has become very successful and has been very well received by the industry, as evident from several sponsorships to the program. This program represents a hallmark of new innovative thinking with a characteristic that distinguishes KFUPM from the top ten global institutions.
The professional layer is a critically important segment of any economy, as this consists of people who launch new startups or contribute significantly to the advancement, effectiveness, and productivity of their organizations. Therefore, the University has paid special attention to this segment and developed 32 professional master’s degrees (MX, or Master of Engineering) in various fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Supply Chain Management, and many more. Furthermore, some of the programs have the Hybrid Immersive Visual Education (HIVE) option available where the lecture classes will be conducted for in-person attendance, and for online students at the same time. The program is immensely successful in terms of both attractiveness and execution. This was also the first time the University offered academic programs on a meritorious basis irrespective of gender. The industry received this program very positively, as evident from the fact that numerous sponsorships were offered to the participants of the program.
Overhauling the Research Sector
The University has completely overhauled its research program and committed to launching 20 new research centers in 2021. Significant changes in the research structures have already been completed, including the requirements that all faculty members are jointly affiliated with at least one research center, that the University will increase its base funding for research, and that research needs to be aligned with societal and national impact, thus emphasizing research-to-market. Activities were afoot in the past couple of months to turn this commitment into a reality, and indeed, 16 new Interdisciplinary Research Centers were launched that tackle numerous aspects of research within the University (the others are Applied and Joint Research Centers). KFUPM is very excited and bullish about the future and as an important goal for this effort has put its sight on quadrupling its annual research output over the next few years.
Lifelong Learning Measure
KFUPM Institute for Knowledge Exchange (KIKX) highlights public events such as seminars, general lectures, workshops, and conferences that take place at KFUPM either physically or virtually. KIKX also gives access to non-technical articles and opinion pieces written by KFUPM's faculty on cutting-edge topics in Science and Technology. The goal of KIKX is to inform, inspire, and ultimately contribute to the transformation of society into a knowledge-driven one that can play the role it deserves in the ongoing fourth industrial revolution and beyond.