PNU — a center of excellence for Arabic language studies
Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University (PNU), on the outskirts of Riyadh, is the largest women-only institution of higher learning in the world, providing education and research facilities to more than 50,000 students, including expatriates. It plays a big role in the empowerment of women.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah launched the university in 2008 in a major move to boost women’s higher education in the Kingdom. Spread over 8 million square meters, the state-of-the-art university with 15 faculties was established at a cost of SR20 billion.
“The PNU is considered the largest women-only university in the world,” said Dr. Huda Al-Ameel, its president. The huge campus was completed in a record time of less than three years on the instructions of King Abdullah.
“We are grateful to King Abdullah for this vital project, which will encourage PNU staff and students to exploit the state-of-the-art facility to excel in education,” the president said.
The Institute of Arabic Language for Non-Arabs at the university is considered a center of excellence for Arabic language studies in the world. About 400 foreign students, belonging to some 50 nationalities, are currently enrolled at the institute, said Dr. Nawal Sulaiman Al-Thunayan, its dean.
She said the new institute was established with the objective of achieving excellence in teaching Arabic language to non-Arabs.
“We provide a complete academic, training and research program for our students by forging national and international partnerships,” she said.
The institute offers a higher diploma in Arabic language and its graduates will be qualified to join any other course at PNU except faculties of health. “Our main objective is to serve the language of the Holy Qur’an by teaching students from different parts of the world,” Al-Thunayan said.
The institute provides a suitable atmosphere conducive to learning and conducts special training programs for teachers to improve their performance. It has prepared the curricula and academic programs on the basis of the latest researches and developments in the field and conducts language tests matching with international standards.
Speaking about foreign students, she said: “They are provided with scholarships and accommodation and are given equal treatment in terms of rights and facilities.”
Al-Thunayan said the university also provided internal and external scholarship programs. “Interested students, including non-Muslims, may apply for admission through its website,” she said.
The university has allocated a special budget to strengthen the institute. The institute conducts language exchange programs for the university’s students who speak different languages to benefit from one another. There are students from Asia, Africa, America and Europe.
Speaking about the courses provided at the institute, Al-Thunayan said: “We provide studies at four levels depending on the level of students and offer 25 hours of teaching for each level, enabling them to learn four basic skills — writing, reading, hearing and speaking. We also provide them with basic Islamic knowledge.”
The embassies inside the Kingdom and their counterparts abroad, handle the scholarship applications. After verifying these applications, the Foreign Ministry refers them to the Ministry of Higher Education, “provided the references are done within the recommended timeframe of receiving the applications.”
Students who have been accepted for admission are notified to visit the Saudi missions in their respective countries to complete visa procedures.
Foreign students receive free health care at government hospitals, furnishing allowance — equivalent to two months’ salary — on arrival in the Kingdom, and three-month salary on graduation, in addition to air tickets to and from their respective countries.