Hitting the books: Saudi government toughens the rules on grants for study abroad students
Saudi high school students taking their final exams in Jeddah. (AFP/File)
Saudi Arabia is currently tightening the requirements for its multi-billion dollar scholarship program for students who want to study abroad.
According to Reuters, a council headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon said that these new rules were necessary because the falling price of oil and its effect on the country’s economy has led to the tightening of belts in some sectors.
State news agency SPA reported no specific changes in the size of the program but did say there will be a reduction in spending along with some new requirements for Saudi students who wish to study abroad. These include enrolling in one of the top 100 universities in the world or one of the top 50 academic programs of their field and maintaining a high grade average according to the requirements set by the Saudi Ministry of Education
Many young Saudis feel they have a natural-born right to these grants.
Reuters stated that in 2014, over 207,000 people took part in the King Abdullah Scholarship program, receiving over $6 billion U.S. dollars in funding for studying abroad.
These funds not only include tuition and housing, but also include a monthly stipend for students. They also cover the cost for family members who want to accompany them abroad, as in the case of young Saudi women who must be accompanied by a male guardian.
Whether or not funding for these benefits will be reduced remains to be seen.
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