Visa Crunch

By 2030, A Revamped Saudi Scholarship Programme To Send 70,000 Students To Study Abroad

Under an updated approach for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Scholarship Program, the Saudi government plans to send 70,000 students to 200 approved foreign institutions by 2030. Under the new strategy, eligible students will be routed down one of four paths: the Pioneers Path, the Research & Development Path, the Providers Path, and the Promising Path:

  • The Pioneers Path is intended to send students to bachelor’s and master’s programmes in a variety of fields at the world’s top 30 educational institutions.
  • The Providers Path is intended to place students in bachelor’s, master’s, and “training” programmes that have a clear link to specific labour market needs.
  • The Research & Development Path is designed for PhD students and is geared toward producing scientists.
  • The Promising Path is intended to direct students to specific fields such as manufacturing tourism through bachelor’s, master’s, and “training” programmes in countries such as South Korea, Japan, and Germany.

The scholarship programme is built on three main pillars that account for a continuum of planning for Saudi Arabia’s economic and societal goals (articulated in the macro-strategy, Vision 2030). The first is “early planning for young students for their educational journey at global institutions and universities”; the second is a strategy to “increase the kingdom’s competitiveness both locally and globally” through study abroad; and the third is a commitment to supporting graduates after they return from study abroad to “improve their readiness to join the labour market both locally and globally.” The scholarship programme is open to both male and female students.

Students who travel to the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, or Australia will not be supported for any English-language training required for their degree programmes, whereas students who travel to non-English-speaking countries will be supported for language studies.

This is an important point to make given that the previous massive Saudi scholarship programme, the “King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP),” sent tens of thousands of Saudi students to programmes primarily in the United States and other English-speaking countries, and included funding for English-language studies. The current scholarship programme highlights the increasing complexities of student mobility in the 2020s, as well as the rise of non-Western destinations.

Simultaneously, the Saudi government began offering English-language instruction to first graders last year in an effort to build proficiency among students before they enter secondary and tertiary education.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.

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