Umm Al-Qura University

Umm Al-Qura University

Prof. Al-Harthi: UQU Offers 137 Higher Postgraduate Programs and TOEFL Not Required for Applying to Theoretical Majors

By: Muhammad Samih

Photographer: Saleh Bahabri

The UQU Dean of Postgraduate Studies, Prof. Sa`id bin Abdul-Rahman Al-Harthi, announced the start of the admission process to 137 programs for the academic year 1440-1441 A.H., including diplomas, master's degrees and PhDs. The programs consist of 64 non-paid programs and 73 paid programs. He stated during his meeting with the media center that TOEFL is not required to apply to some educational, humanities and shari`ah sciences, at the request of the different departments. The text of the interview is as follows:

When will the admission to the postgraduate study programs be announced?

Admission to the postgraduate study programs will take a different form this year, and will include a large number of newly updated and introduced programs through which we endeavor to achieve the aspirations and wishes of everyone. Admission will be processed in two phases, including: preference criteria for the non-paid programs, which started at the beginning of last week, and a second phase concerning admission to quality paid, updated and introduced programs, which will start in the next few weeks, Allah willing.

What is the reason behind delaying the admission for this year, unlike previous years?

A qualitative leap and expansion have been made, as all the previous majors which were introduced more than five years ago have been updated and developed and new programs have been introduced to meet the requirements of the labor market, making a total of 164 approved programs in the different scientific degrees, including diplomas, masters, and PhD programs. In addition to the programs which were updated and introduced last year, a total of about 185 postgraduate programs are now offered by the university.

What are the newly updated programs for the academic year 1440-1441 A.H.?

Postgraduate study programs in different fields were introduced, including: Hajj and Umrah, regulations, medicine, medical sciences, nursing, engineering, software and computers, education, business administration, accounting, intellectual security, genetics, fashion design, home decor, home management, teaching the Arabic language to non-native speakers, besides some new programs which will be offered by the colleges in some branches of the university.

What is the number of programs which will be available for admission this year, and their conditions?

The number of the programs available for admission this year 1440-1441 A.H. is 137, in all the phases of diplomas, master's degrees and PhDs, including 64 non-paid programs and 73 quality paid programs targeting those who desire to develop their knowledge skills, particularly employees. Regarding the admission conditions, these are general conditions specified in article 13 of the unified bylaw of postgraduate studies and its executive and organizational rules. The admission will be opened even for those who have scored a grade of "Good" in their degree, provided that the grades in the subjects of the specialization are "Very Good". Moreover, TOEFL is not required when applying to theoretical, educational and humanities majors.

Some say that conditions of admission to postgraduate study programs are unbearable, such as the TOEFL exam?

UQU receives 10 thousand confirmed e-applications annually, which indicates that the conditions are reasonable. However, the deanship has amended some regulations relevant to the conditions of admission. For example, the TOEFL exam is limited only to some majors this year, and the minimum results in this test were approved to facilitate students' admission.

Are there any alternatives to these exams?

The required tests include TOEFL, IELTS, or the Standardized Test of English Proficiency (STEP) which is conducted by the National Center for Assessment.

What are your plans to harmonize your programs in line with the strategies of the National Transformation Program 2020?

The deanship has developed a comprehensive modernization plan for all the postgraduate programs that are five years old or more. Twenty-two of the university's colleges participated in the updating and development of the programs. They submitted 170 programs, including diplomas, academic master's degrees with study courses and a research project, academic research master's degrees with courses and a thesis, and PhDs in line with the scientific updates in the different majors offered by the scientific departments. The updated and developed academic programs were designed according to scientific standards and specifications of institutional accreditation and labor market needs, in such a manner that contributes to the development of the knowledge-based economy in line with the national transformation plans. Its scientific content has been assessed and reviewed by academic staff, including professors and at least associate professors, from prominent universities at the local and international levels, amounting to 91 academic institutions. The programs were assessed by 451 referees to enable those wishing to join them to develop their scientific capacities and increase their efficiency skills.

Some applicants from the government sector complain of the difficulty of the condition stipulating the approval of their employer, why has this condition not been canceled?

This year, the organizational rules of the unified bylaw of UQU postgraduate studies have been updated, and new organizational rules have been added to article 13 requiring the approval of the employer in the event that the program is offered during the daytime. However, the paid programs do not require the approval of the employer, as they are offered outside the working hours and on weekends.

Is it true that the deanship bans university employees from completing their postgraduate studies?

That's absolutely not true. The policy followed in the admission of the UQU employees is the same as that adopted in the admission of the employees of the government sector, which is subject to the regulations for scholarships, training and postgraduate studies in the university. There are a number of UQU employees who were given the opportunity to join the postgraduate study programs. In this regard, the university, represented by the Higher Committee for Administrative Development, the Deanship of Postgraduate Studies, and the different parties relevant to development and education, endeavors to prepare specialized scientific and professional competencies, qualifying them in various fields of knowledge. We are striving to achieve development and improvement, and remove all obstacles related to academic and administrative measures stipulated by the unified bylaw of the postgraduate study programs. This is in order to serve the graduate students, and produce well-established research projects which contribute to boosting the wheel of development.

What is the selection mechanism adopted for the postgraduate programs?

This year, a new mechanism has been adopted to select the applicants for the postgraduate programs, at all its stages (higher diplomas, master’s degrees, and PhDs). The selection mechanism or the preference criteria for the higher diploma stage will be 50% for the GPA and 50% in the grade of the General Aptitude Test for university graduates. For the master’s stage, the selection mechanism will be 60% for the university GPA and 40% in the grade of the General Aptitude Test for university graduates. For the PhD stage, the selection mechanism will be 30% for the master’s GPA, 20% in the General Aptitude Test for university graduates, 40% for the written test made by the department, and 10% for the applicant's research abilities.

What is the difference between the paid and non-paid programs?

There is no great difference between the paid and non-paid programs in terms of regulations, study levels or certificates awarded, as all of them are academic programs serving the student.

Is there a specific age for admission?

There is no specific age for admission to postgraduate study programs.

Will the graduates of the affiliation programs meeting the general conditions of admission be admitted to postgraduate study programs?

Admission is open for all those who meet the special and general conditions of admission whether they are graduates of the affiliation programs or regular programs, according to the conditions of the scientific departments concerned.