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In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, substantial changes and reforms in several sectors, including health and education, have taken place in recent years. These changes and reforms are aligned with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 in terms of creating a diverse economy which is not solely based on oil as used to be beforehand. New policies have been developed in universities and higher education institutions to enhance Saudi universities' standing in academic and research activities, as well as community service at the regional and worldwide levels. In response to these new regulations, universities and higher education institutions have developed their strategic plans in a way that supports the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 of achieving smart, sustainable, and globally competitive universities. For the successful implementation of these plans, however, critical success factors including corporate governance have to be considered. Despite the extensive research on the importance of developing effective and reliable governance policies and practices for the overall growth of organizations including universities, no sufficient studies on the role of corporate governance on improving sustainable development plans and combating corruption, improving transparency, and enhancing sustainable development plans in the Saudi universities. In response to this limitation, this study is concerned with exploring the impact of governance policies and practices on the performance of the Saudi universities within the domestic and global changes that are taking place. In so doing, an interview survey is conducted with a selected number of executives, stakeholders, employees, and faculty members in four Saudi universities. Results indicate that the contributions of the universities to sustainable development plans and strategies is still under expectations. In this regard, the Saudi universities should replace the traditional academic model with the corporate model. This should be coincided with and supported by reliable and effective governance policies and practices for improving sustainable development plans and combating corruption, improving transparency, and enhancing sustainable development plans in the Saudi universities. For the better performance of the universities and higher education institutions, financial accountability for university management should be enforced.