Oxford Partnership chosen for Saudi 'Colleges of Excellence'

The Oxford Partnership chosen for Saudi 'Colleges of Excellence'


The Oxford Partnership, comprising Activate LearningGEMS Education Solutions and Moulton College, has been selected to develop and manage three new vocational colleges in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The partnership is one of four British consortiums chosen through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Colleges of Excellence (CoE) project.

Now in its second phase, the project represents a significant investment in technical and vocational education and training in Saudi Arabia. The first wave of 10 colleges opened in September 2013, with a further 26 due to open in September 2014.

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 government, will cater for up to 500 students per college in the first year, rising to 2,000 per college within five years.

Students will focus on English language training 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.

Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise, said: “This deal is a vote of confidence in the UK’s improving education system. Exporting helps companies grow and is a vital part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to create jobs and reduce the deficit.

“I visited Saudi Arabia earlier this year in support of UK bidders and am particularly pleased that they will soon be offering high quality practical skills training to an additional 24,000 Saudi students including 14,000 Saudi women.

“I look forward to seeing the UK's education and training presence continue to grow in Saudi Arabia and internationally. I encourage any company with global ambitions to contact UKTI.”

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 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.”

Activate Learning will develop the colleges’ curriculum and 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 the agricultural programmes.

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