Just like sectors such as tourism, business, health, etc., education too has become a key “industry” to attract international students. The number of educational institutions offering targeted programs just for students from overseas has increased multifold in the last two decades. Youth from countries like China, India, etc. are especially attracted to well established western universities to give them an additional edge among millions of compatriots in the job market.
Oil-rich Gulf countries also have a large number of young people going abroad for higher education. For instance, the number of students from Saudi Arabia studying abroad has considerably increased over the years. In 2012 alone more than 145,000 students enrolled in educational programs outside the country, according to the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education
Qatar is also witnessing the same trend. Despite well-known international universities in Education City and a fantastic range of courses offered by Qatar University, many students opt to study abroad. Studying abroad may be a good exposure to the youth and broadens their vision, but at a more personal level it also leads to a need for streamlined, efficient communication.
Phone calls and DHL do not cut it anymore in this networked, connected society. Saudi Arabia has found a way to serve students studying abroad efficiently with the Safeer Platform. Through this platform, Saudi students studying abroad can handle all their affairs online or through their smartphones eliminating or reducing considerably the need for paperwork.
The many benefits of the Safeer Platform can easily be emulated and adopted by other countries interested in the welfare of their youth studying overseas. Actually, not only is the platform simply beneficial to the students; it also provides a range of electronic services for staff of the Ministry of Education, cultural attaches, and scholarship bodies. By doing so, the platform allows faster decision-making and more efficient communication between all stakeholders.
Furthermore, this has led to more integration among the different entities and unified the work system in this area. Additionally, the platform has reduced application processing time and has made the Ministry of Education more accessible to Saudi students. The Safeer platform has the following key elements that meet the various requirements of its target audience:
- Safeer Students
- Safeer Workflow
- Safeer Study
- Safeer Finance
- Safeer Mobile
- Safeer Documents
- Safeer Reports
Each of these elements has a wide range of benefits, including data of students studying abroad in one area to make it accessible to stakeholders, allowing students to change majors, moving to another country, extending, postponing, upgrading or ending a scholarship, and allowing students to automatically follow up on their application status or termination dates. In addition to these features, the Safeer platform also provides financial and administrative services.
The Safeer mobile app provides alerts and notifications to students directly through their mobile phones to ensure that any issues can be solved at the earliest, provides the student with their supervisor’s details and the relevant contact information. The students can also access their documents and past records through the platform.
It would have been excellent if the Safeer platform could have a way for students to find other Saudi students studying abroad in specific locations. There is nothing like meeting a fellow countrymen while living in somewhere far from home.
The Safeer platform has made life much easier for students studying abroad, allowing them to communicate with the relevant people directly without time zone constraints. It would also help you control your phone bill (rather handy when you are on student allowances) by using the platform instead of long international calls with the authorities.
Not surprisingly, with so many tangible benefits for students, the Safeer platform has won many awards including the ones at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) forum 2013.
After witnessing the success that Saudi Arabia has had with this platform, all signs point to a similar platform launching in Qatar and other GCC countries. The question however is, who will launch this platform? Think you can mirror the Safeer platform or even improve it? If you are up for this idea or even another ICT related idea that could benefit the society, contact ictQATAR’s Digital Incubation Center and let them know. You could have the next award-winning project.