Matching and Ranking Trustworthy Context-Dependent Universities: A Case Study of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program

Matching and Ranking Trustworthy Context-Dependent Universities: A Case Study of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program

Wadee S. Alhalabi (Department of Computer Science, King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), Afnan Bawazir (Department of Computer Science, King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), Mubarak Mohammad (Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada) and Akila Sarirete (Department of Computer Science, Effat University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJSWIS.2017040107
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Abstract

The King Abdullah Scholarship Program was created in 2005 by sending Saudi students to study abroad. The program has a series of specific rules and it was found that due to the multitude of services the students can choose from, there is a great difficulty in finding the most suitable universities/programs/courses. Traditional manual selection requires students to visit every university website looking for their preferred courses. Some students prefer to talk to advisers and recruiters to get help. Students are not aware that those advisers and recruiters might have a financial interest to direct students to certain universities. Therefore, the risk of applying to the wrong institution is increased. Manually selecting what is best for each criterion is a tedious task, and, consequently, in this work the authors use an automated system to reach a plausible solution.
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Introduction

Due to the huge number of universities and the variety of their features, choosing the right university and programs is a difficult task that requires a significant investment of time. For example, the prospective postgraduate student searching for a university will find many available universities, all of them claiming to be the best. This is overwhelming, as there are just too many offers to read and compare. Usually, university selection is based on the nearest university or the position of the university of their interest in the ranking lists or what the student can afford. In addition, students need to make sure that their existing qualification will be recognized by the foreign university that they plan to apply to. At the same time, they have to search for a legitimate university that is accredited by their country.

Different students from different countries have different context information. Including the context in the system of ranking would improve the ranking list’s relevance. For example, the ranking of a university should include whether the university in the list of accredited universities is in the student’s country or not. To boost the relevance of a ranking list, important factors to consider are the context of universities and students, and the amount of study time. Through context awareness, an individualized ranking list could be provided for each student.

To solve the problem of redundant universities with similar course features appearing at the top of the ranking list, trustworthiness has a key part to play in ranking and selecting the appropriate university, based on the preferences of students.

There are many websites that help students with searching and finding their courses, such as FindAMasters (“About FindAMasters.com,” n.d.), Prospects (“Search postgraduate courses | Prospects.ac.uk,” n.d.), CUG Course Chooser (“CUG Course Chooser,” n.d.), QS Course Finder (“Business Courses, Degrees, Masters, MBAs QS Course Finder,” n.d.) and U-Multirank (“U-Multirank | Universities compared. Your way.,” n.d.). Although these websites provide searching by features, the search process is based on a matching process that acts as a filter. Therefore, it filters out all other options that do not exactly match a predefined value. Then the search results are sorted in ascending or descending order based on one feature, which is most of the time insufficient. In real life, there is no choice that meets all the student’s preferences.

The King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP) was created in 2005 by sending Saudi students to the United States. KASP now is the largest scholarship program in Saudi Arabia’s history. The scope of the scholarship program has been broadened to include a number of advanced countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. As a result of this scholarship program, Saudi scholar students have obtained bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees, as well as medical fellowships. The major of study that students are allowed to enroll in is chosen carefully by the Saudi Arabian Government and Ministry of Education (MoE), based on the perceived need of the country and the economy (“Saudi Cultural bureau in Canada,” n.d.).

Although the MoE decides on the major that the students can choose from each university, it does not choose the course program for each student. An accredited list of universities is compiled for all available majors that the students can choose from, with wider alternatives. The accredited list of universities is subject to periodic review in order to meet the needs of the Saudi labor market (“سفير الجامعات - بحث عن جامعة,” n.d.). It is the student’s responsibility to search and find a suitable university and major from this list of accredited universities provided by the MoE. Students search themselves for the right courses. Now it is time to automate and facilitate the process of searching for the right courses and make it much easier than before.

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