M. Elgeddawy

Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (SAUDI ARABIA)
The aim of this study is to explore – from the perspectives of students at Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - the extent to which the integration of skill-based interdisciplinary set of core curriculum program courses into the university curricula:
(1) improves the development of global competences, and
(2) increases global awareness and graduates' employability.

The study also reports on the correlation between the perceived impact of the core courses on the development of lifelong learning skills on the one hand and student attitude towards the core program on the other hand. The study is based on the assumption that a competency-based core curriculum program that incorporates global learning with a local insight increases students' global consciousness and graduates' employability.

A constructivist philosophy underpins the research design. A mixed methods case study approach involving surveys administered to 220 male and female students at the case institution was used for data collection. The survey includes three open-ended questions aiming at highlighting quotes that validate quantitative results. To increase the validity of the findings, syllabi analysis of selected core courses is conducted to identify the extent to which the core curriculum courses emphasize competences and activities that increase students' global awareness and graduates' employability. Descriptive statistics and correlation analysis are used for quantitative data analysis. Nvivo is used to analyse the selected syllabi

The findings suggest that integrating skill-based core curriculum courses into higher education curricula improves student global learning and future employability. The results also reveal the importance of integrating global employability competences (such as communication, critical thinking, global awareness, technology, teamwork and leadership) into the university curricula not only through standalone core curriculum courses, but also across all discipline-specific courses. Two conceptual approaches towards the integration of transferable soft skills proved to be effective:
(1) the standalone approach which involves the skill-based core curriculum program courses, and
(2) the integrative approach which implements the employability competences across all discipline-based courses.

The findings suggest that a competency-based core program adds a value to students' learning, global thinking and future employability. Significantly, although the sample is taken from one case study in a limited geographical area in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which may jeopardize the generalizability of the findings, the study opens a new horizon of research to validate the results in similar locations.

The study provides insights into the pedagogical approaches of integrating global studies and employability competences into higher education curricula. It spotlights where in the curriculum students get the opportunity to develop global thinking and lifelong learning skills. The insights gained from this study are useful to educators, curriculum designers and policy makers. It provides them with an understanding of the value of implementing global studies and competences within the framework of a global education that explores socio-economical world problems and allows learners to make a desired entry into the world of the different intellectual Other.