Nursing Education Systems in Saudi Arabia and China


Saudi Arabia is the country that has considerably improved its nursing education. China is another country that has also been working on its nursing curriculum defining it as emerging due to the leading positions in different spheres around the whole world. It seems that the Chinese nursing education system is superior to the one of Saudi Arabia, and to prove this fact certain research is required. In this paper, the comparison of nursing education systems of these two countries is given.

Political History and Development of Nursing Education


The role of the political class helps to understand the development of nursing education. The communist government controls most of the important sectors with the Ministry of Health controlling all the policies relating to nursing education. China is the country that provided a number of private players with certain opportunities in policy development (Lee & Tilbury, 2008). It helped to transform the quality of nursing education. The major shift took place in 2001 when the Chinese government started encouraging the active participation of private players in policy development.

Saudi Arabia

The government cooperates with private players to enhance nursing education and promotes sponsorship to numerous research organizations and nursing institutes. The leaders started a project that was meant to promote private-public partnerships in nursing education in 2004 (Montagu, 2010).

Comparison of the two countries

The political history and development of nursing education of the two countries are similar due to the role of government in its development. Still, the Saudi Arabian government demonstrated more support for the development of its nursing education than the representatives of China.

Government and Nursing Organizations Influencing Nursing Education


The Ministry of Health plays a pivotal role in influencing nursing education, including the role of developing the curriculum. The Ministry works together with other government agencies such as medical training colleges that aim at developing policies and regulating nursing education in the country.

Saudi Arabia

The government established the General Organization for Technical Education and Vocational Training that is controlled by the Ministry of Education to promote policy development in nursing education. These agencies work alongside the Ministry of Health.

Comparison of the two countries

Both countries have established specific entities that are responsible for policy development in nursing education. However, the way how these programs are accepted and applied by the societies differs considerably.

Current System of Nursing Education


The current system of educating nurses is not perfect but huge. In spite of the fact that more than 500,000 nurses have gotten their diplomas in 2005 (Fang, 2007), half of them remain to be unemployed. At the same time, China suffers from a nurse shortage. There are several diplomae (hospital-based) schools such as the Peking Union Medical College and the Shandong School of Nursing. Chinese nursing education has also moved into university settings. For example, China Medical University has a special 5-year program in nursing for Chinese and international students. This program is also an example of how different programs may be combined – to apply for this program, an HSK certificate is necessary.

Saudi Arabia

This nursing education system is peculiar indeed. Not all degrees may be offered to the students: only several specialties are available to men, and only women can get their nursing diplomas (Alamri, 2011). There are many hospital-based schools that offer nursing courses diplomas for women: the King Khalid Military College for National Guard or King Saud University. Nursing education has already moved into university settings: in addition to King Saud University, Kind Abdulaziz University offers certain programs. Unfortunately, the current research shows that there are no combined programs in Saudi Arabian universities (Alamri, 2011) and proves that certain adjustments are necessary.

Comparison of the two countries

Though China and Saudi Arabia have successful nursing education systems, both of them have to be improved considerably: the Chinese nursing education system should be supported by the provision of working places for students, and the Saudi Arabian education should have more combined programs to encourage students’ potential in nursing.

Post-Graduate (Masters) Education


Many Chinese universities offer post-graduate education programs in nursing (Lee & Tilbury, 2008). These programs include masters and doctorate degrees in nursing. However, some students choose such countries as the United States to get their education in nursing instead of paying more attention to the local opportunities.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia universities offer masters and doctorate degrees in nursing. The government has also sponsored some undergraduates to study in Western universities for post-graduate education.

Comparison of the two countries

In both countries, there are established universities that offer post-graduate degrees in nursing. Still, the programs and the results of education are different because of the opportunities available for the citizens.

Conclusion: Reflections on Nursing Education

Saudi Arabia has developed rather a successful nursing education system that is almost similar to the one of the United States. China is yet to address a number of issues concerning its nursing programs; still, it is also good indeed. Nursing education systems of these two countries are yet to match the standards of the United States; however, many steps are taken to achieve better results within a short period of time.


Alamri, M. (2011). Higher Education in Saudi Arabia. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 11(4), 88-91.

Fang, Z.Z. (2007). Potential of China in global nurse migration. Health Services Research, 42(3), 1419-1428.

Lee, J. & Tilbury, D. (2008). Changing Environments: The Challenge for Environmental Education in China. Nursing Education Journal, 83(3), 227-236.

Montagu, C. (2010). Civil Society and the Voluntary Sector in Saudi Arabia. Middle East Journal, 64(1), 67-83.

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