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University of Essex graduate gives people new life choices through online higher education

Social Impact Award: Dr. Abdullah Al Fraidan

Dr. Abdullah manages a series of online higher education courses for more than 144,000 people in Saudi Arabia. Eighty per cent of the participants have previously never had the opportunity to pursue study at this level.

With students ranging in age from 25 to over 60, the courses offer new life chances to a diverse mix of people, including prisoners, low-income widows and people with special needs.

‘These programmes have re-opened the door for people to achieve something they never thought they could,’ says Dr. Abdullah. ‘We are not only impacting on the students, but also on their families, their jobs and Saudi society in general.’

Since 2010, Dr. Abdullah has been using the knowledge and experiences he gained while studying for both a master’s degree and a PhD in Linguistics at the University of Essex.

‘In every aspect of my life, I try to apply everything I learned during my time in the UK, both socially and at work,’ he says. ‘Collaboration was a virtue planted in my heart and mind, and this continued to grow until I felt I needed to help as many people as I could.’

While heading up the Saudi Society at the University of Essex, Dr. Abdullah supported hundreds of students to settle down in Colchester and to enrol at university. Now he helps thousands of people back in Saudi Arabia to aim for a better life through education.

Abdullah recently calculated the number of emails he receives from his students each year, and realised that he replies to more than 70,000.

‘It’s tedious work, but it makes me happy,’ he says.