The Oxford Partnership chosen for Saudi ‘Colleges of Excellence’

April 6, 2014 11:17 am

The Oxford Partnership, a joint venture between Activate Learning, GEMS Education Solutions and Moulton College, has been selected to develop and manage three newly built vocational colleges in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Following an international tendering process, The Oxford Partnership has been chosen to manage a cluster of three women’s colleges in the north of the country, in the towns of Al Jouf, Arar and Qurayyat.

New, purpose-built facilities provided by the Saudi Arabian government, will cater for up to 500 students per college in the first year, rising to 2,000 students per college within five years.

Activate Learning will develop the colleges’ curriculum and their management in partnership with GEMS Education Solutions, an international educational consultancy already delivering education in Saudi Arabia, and Moulton College, which will provide particular expertise in quality assurance and in agricultural programmes.

In time, this is expected to include the development of the learning company model, which sees students at both the further education colleges immersed in real-world, commercial operations as an integral part of their studies.

Students will focus on English language training and basic ICT skills in the first year, before specialising in vocational areas including healthcare, business, IT and finance, hair and beauty, fashion design and agriculture. Subject areas have been chosen by the government to support growing employment needs in distinct parts of the country.

The partnership is one of four British consortia picked by Saudi Arabia’s Colleges of Excellence (CoE) project, which represents a significant investment in technical and vocational education and training in Saudi Arabia. The first wave of 10 colleges under the project opened in September 2013, and this second phase will open a further 26 in September 2014, including the three colleges to be managed by the Oxford Partnership.

Sally Dicketts, chief executive of Activate Learning (previously Oxford & Cherwell Valley College Group), said: “This project exemplifies our group vision, to transform lives through learning. The colleges represent a significant investment in the training and development of women in Saudi Arabia, empowering them to develop the technical skills and qualifications required for successful futures.”

Chris Kirk, chief executive officer of GEMS Education Solutions, said: “A programme of this scale recognises the vital importance of vocational and technical education in achieving sustainable economic growth for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is a programme that will work closely with employers – from its design to its delivery – linking learning to future employment opportunities.”

Stephen Davies, chief executive of Moulton College, said: “We are best placed with our partners to make a significant difference to young adults in Saudi Arabia in delivering best in practice technical vocational education and training, and excited by the opportunities this expansion provides for our own UK-based staff and students by broadening experiences on a global scale.”

Sue Parker, Global Skills Director, for GEMS Education Solutions and Project Director for The Oxford Partnership, said, “We do not underestimate the challenges, but we are really excited to be awarded this opportunity to help young women develop skills and competences that enable them to develop their interests and ultimately participate in employment. The Colleges of Excellence project shows the commitment of the Saudi government to really address youth unemployment and underemployment. It has, therefore, major spin-offs for other parts of the GCC and wider MENA region”.

For further information, please contact:

Malek Abderahman
ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller
Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Tel: +966 126067202, Ext. 200