Scholarship opportunities abroad: Saudi Arabia

May 14, 2019
  • International Admissions and Credential Evaluation
  • International Education
  • Study Abroad
  • international scholarships
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Diversify your international student population by capitalizing on scholarship opportunities for both international and study abroad students. This ongoing resource will from AACRAO International will highlight opportunities by focusing on particular regions. First up: The Gulf.  

Saudi Arabia has supported students studying abroad through scholarship programs for decades. Starting in 1960, the programs expanded from just Arab countries like Egypt and Lebanon to the U.S. and Europe. In 2005, King Abdullah and President George Bush came to an agreement to increase the number of Saudi students in the US as way to ease tensions between the two nations after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and out of that agreement sprang the King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP), the largest scholarship program in the history of Saudi Arabia (according to https://www.sacm.org/ArabicSACM/pdf/education_web.pdf).

While the program saw exponential growth in the number of students studying abroad (from 11,116 in 2006 to 71,026 in 2011, according to USA Today as cited in https://www.nafsa.org/About_Us/About_International_Education/Scholarships_Bring_Record_N umber_of_Saudi_Students_to_United_States/), the Saudi government had to cut back on its spending between 2015 and 2016, due to sinking crude oil prices. As a result, they have made their requirements stricter (students must be enrolled in one of the top 50 academic programs for their field or at one of the top 100 universities in the world), decreased the amount of support they offer to students (such as not providing rewards for good grades), and encouraged students to study domestically, as they have invested more resources in its infrastructure in recent years (according to https://www.forbes.com/sites/leifwalcutt/2016/09/28/the-scholarship-struggle-saudi-arabian-stud ents-are-facing/#35beafd1cd9b). The program is scheduled to expire in 2020, and enrollment rates are predicted to decrease each year until then.

Previous articles:
Scholarship opportunities abroad: Oman
Scholarship opportunities abroad: Bahrain