Comparing methods of university teaching in the UK

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Over the last fifty years, higher education has become one of the most significant factors in the development of countries. In developed countries, authorities in the field of higher education have become concerned about education and have aimed for continued improvement of education to a level similar to the U.K. Nevertheless, there have been improvements in higher education in some countries based on historical and cultural ties with Saudi Arabia providing good example of such cases. In fact, teaching methods have a remarkable effect education. Several methods are taught in the U.K which many rely on critical thinking and freedom regardless of religions, gender, and physical well- being whereas traditional ways dominate education in Saudi Arabia. The aim of this essay is to compare and contrast studying in universities in the U.K and Saudi Arabia and after that, to discuss the difference in teaching methods between the countries in terms of lectures, seminar, research, and presentation.

Over the last five decades, Britain has had a world- wide reputation for its universities. It has historical universities which are top ranking, such as University of Cambridge. In addition, the good qualities of the British education system attract a considerable number of international students annually. According to higher education statistics in the U.K, the number of international students in 2008/2009 increased by 15% and the total numbers of international students were 368,970. Despite the considerable number of American universities which are top ranking in the world, 15000 American students in 2009 studied in the U.K. In contrast to this, universities in Saudi Arabia have not attracted international students due to law quality of the higher education. In fact, the legalisation in higher education related to cultural and religious issue restrict the development in this field. There is no solid evidence of having international students in Saudi universities except refugees such as Palestinian.

The British system is one in which two systems are used in education the first one including England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the second is begin used in Scotland. In an undergraduate degree, students must study for three years in order to graduate in the initial system while in the second students must study four years. The first year is called Foundation which prepares students for the subject that they choose. In Saudi Arabia, students undertaking an undergraduate have to study for four years, the same as Scottish system.

Over time, the types of courses have completely changed in the U.K. Universities have a considerable number of subjects in different fields. Not only have the types of courses changed but also, the popularity of master's and doctoral programmes has increased enormously. Since 1990 the number of applicants that applied to study master's degrees has risen from both home and international students. As a result, the learning style used in master's has changed where it used to focus on research, they are now taught intensively in one year. In addition, taught courses in some doctorate programmes are now available.

In spite of the fact that universities in the U.K are independent of government, the authorities in this field are concerned about it. For example, a higher education policy institute established by small group of authorities in the field in November, 2002 aimed to identify research, relevant to higher education and stimulate discussion. In contrast, however, in Saudi Arabia, the types of courses are limited due to a lack of structure and professional development in different fields. The core reasons for this are related to the legalisation of government which has no parliament and in which subjects have no right to vote. Consequently, freedom is restricted in different fields. For example, Saudi educated academics who completed PhDs in the U.K thirty years ago, could not make use of any new styles in their teaching methods due to lack of freedom.

Nevertheless, in 2009 King Abdullah Science and Technology University was established, a controversial event in Saudi society. Even though this university is aimed to expand the knowledge and research field in science and engineering, religious people who support wahabi argued over of the mixing of men and women as well as the ability of women to drive cars in this area. In fact this university is independent of Ministry of Higher Education and cooperates with 27 academic partners from Imperial college of London, the University of Oxford, and the University of Cambridge.

Using the internet contributes to improved teaching methods. For example, it is common in the U.K to use Web Learn. The core benefit of this website is that it allows students to study as well as save lectures, discuss lecture points with colleagues in chat rooms and submit course work, making these facilities suited to students needs. Although Saudi Arabia is a petroleum exporting country, these facilities are not available in Saudi universities. Moreover, distance education is one of the most crucial elements in the U.K. In, 1969 the Open University was established to teach students in that time through video, and radio with the assessment by course book. Nowadays students tend to study online and they contact with tutors for coursework or research. In addition, as Driscoll mentioned in" Britain for learners of English" they have to attend residential course for a one week in the summer. Those who study online courses will be qualified in an enormous range of subjects such as an Msc Haematology and Ma in Human Resource Management. They have the opportunity to seek jobs while being students who study full time .In contrast, on line courses are a new style of studying in Saudi Arabia. It began in King Faisal University in 2009 in business subjects. Un like the U.K, students who studied this are not considered acceptable to work in the government sector. Students cannot have scholarships to study online courses abroad. However, the Ministry of Higher Education confirmed that this year, online courses will be acceptable, meaning that the legalisation against scholarships in this circumstance is not applied.

Several teaching methods are used in U.K and Saudi Arabian universities. The initial one is a lecture which is a traditional way to teach since students tend to sit and receive information. This method is based on factual material in a direct and logical manner. The major benefit of this is that it is useful for large groups. However, the audience is passive and the communication with students is one way. Both British education and Saudi education uses this method; nevertheless the success of this style depends on lectures since student feedback provides a valuable chance for students to study hard. It also stimulates students to be aware of their marks.

As far as seminars are concerned, it is one of the best ways to discuss and pool knowledge between students, and is a typical method in the U.K in its relation to British culture and democracy. Argument and discussion are features in this method. Students will be asked to prepare seminars in different subjects. Consequently, students will be motivated to read books and articles in order to approach these subjects. Involving students and obtaining experience are the greatest advantages in this technique. In spite of sharing knowledge and gaining experience in their subject's method, students need to be careful to focus on the purpose of group and not get side tracked. Nevertheless, this method is not available in Saudi Arabia due as the system of education is not based on discussion and argument. Indeed, students in Saudi Arabia have no right to argue against anything. Saudi culture is the major reason for this since the individual freedom is restricted. Indeed, the equality of the rights is not available due to bribery, and loyalty to the royal family.

Higher education in the U.K is similar to Saudi Arabia in writing research. It is considered a teaching style which is based on searching for information, expanding knowledge, and analytical or critical thinking. Academic writing skills also feature in writing research. Plagiarism, which is the copying of another's written work, is prohibited in the U.K, in order to protect the writer's rights while in Saudi Arabia it is legal. Moreover, presentations are sometimes a part of research allowing students to show their work to those in different fields. Attracting an audience through information is a brilliant opportunity for students.

To sum up, higher education is one of the most significant elements in improving countries. Many teaching methods are used in the U.K and Saudi Arabia such as lecture, research and presentation. However, seminar method is used in the U.K and is associated with British civilization and democracy. The U.K's prohibition of plagiarism is a good example of protecting writer's right. The Saudi Arabian system inspires patriotism, yet changing the legalisation and giving freedom are important elements creatively. Ultimately, sending students to study abroad is not enough to civilize Saudi Arabia and improve their educational system.