Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
3rd May 2022

Updated Saudi scholarship programme will send 70,000 students abroad by 2030  

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • A refreshed Saudi scholarship programme will send 70,000 Saudi students abroad to top-ranked universities and training institutes by 2030
  • Funding will cover foreign language preparation in non-English-speaking destinations but not language studies in English-speaking destinations such as Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US
  • Male and female students will be streamed into one of four areas that correspond to Saudi Arabia’s labour market needs and economic development and competitiveness goals

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

  • The Pioneers Path is designed to send students to bachelors and masters programmes in all fields at the world’s top 30 education institutions.
  • The Providers Path is designed to send students into bachelors, masters, and “training” programmes with a clear relationship with specific labour market needs.
  • The Research & Development Path is oriented to producing scientists and is intended for PhD-level students.
  • The Promising Path is meant to stream students into specific fields such as manufacturing tourism in bachelors, masters, and “training” programmes located in such countries as South Korea, Japan, and Germany.

The scholarship programme hinges on three pillars that take into account 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 elevate 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 labor market locally and globally.”

Both male and female students are eligible for the scholarship programme and can apply via this link.

No funding for English studies

Students who go to destinations such as the US, UK, Canada and Australia will not receive support for any English-language training required for their degree programmes, but students going to non-English-speaking destinations will receive support for language studies.
This is an important detail 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 US and other English destinations and included funding for English-language studies. The current scholarship programme underlines the increasing complexity of student mobility in the 2020s and the rise of non-Western destinations.
At the same time, the Saudi government began offering English-language instruction to first graders last year, in a bid to build proficiency among school children before the secondary and tertiary levels of education.
For additional background please see:

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