University Campuses in Saudi Arabia

Sustainability Challenges and Potential Solutions

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has experienced a huge investment from the government in many sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, and so on. A special focus has been given to the higher education sector. This is because education, and higher education in particular, is key for the development of any country. To realise this, the government is spending almost a quarter of the national budget on higher education. The numbers of universities have risen from 8 to 28 public universities. Every province in the Kingdom has at least one public university and other private tertiary education organisations. To accommodate all these institutions, campuses are built in phases. This research investigated sustainability aspects in Saudi Arabian university campuses. It examined some sustainability policies, practices, and operations that are and will always be of great importance to higher education institutions. The investigation involved scientific methods of collecting data in which around 40 interviews were conducted, 2,000 questionnaires were collected, and 12 campuses were observed. This research has attempted to highlight the importance of sustainability in higher education institutions so that policy- and decision-makers are fully aware of the great benefits of becoming more sustainable. This research has documented the recent developments in higher education facilities in the Kingdom. It not only assessed and reported sustainability aspects in university campuses, but also tried to find solutions. Therefore, planning guidelines and an implementation plan were proposed. The planning guidelines shed some light on key issues in campus planning and design, as well as sustainability policies, practices, and operations in universities. The implementation plan is a practical six-step plan that universities in Saudi Arabia need to take into account in order to approach sustainability holistically. The plan consists of steps and each step has a number of actions to be taken by certain individuals, agencies, and university departments within a specific time framework. The planning guidelines and the implementation plan were developed for both existing and future universities. They were not only grounded principally on evidence-based results derived from this research, but also on policies emulated from well-known best practices worldwide. This means that some policies were developed based on scientific findings of this study, whereas others were adopted from supplementary literature of real cases. This indicates that lessons were drawn from both local and international contexts for the sake of advancing sustainability aspects in Saudi Arabian universities and elsewhere.