Saudi Arabia will open its first government engineering school for female high school graduates, and faculty will work at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah.
The program will include one preparatory year and four years to complete the bachelor degree, and will include only electrical and industrial engineering courses for girls.
The engineering faculty dean, Abdulmalik al-Junaidi, who said that the first class will include 50 to 60 students, told the Saudi-based newspaper al-Watan, that the faculty will liaison with other private and public companies to recruit the female graduates. He added that starting salaries would be in the $4,000 a month range.
Al-Junaidi said the university spent one year on a feasibility study to determine whether the program should be approved; data included a finding that 92 percent of the girls polled said that they would want to join an engineering faculty, and that 80 percent of the parents polled said that they would not mind if their daughters pursued engineering degrees.
However, only electrical and industrial engineering will be open to young women,according to the dean, because those fields would allow the women to maintain their privacy.
Studies showing that female students in Saudi Arabia perform better academically was one reason the program was begun.
Saudi Arabia currently has engineering programs for female students, but they are all in private institutions.
Effat College, formed in 1999, offered the kingdom’s first engineering course for women.
Effat was founded by liberal members of the royal family, who still play a major role in its development.