Expats with children in high school begin to feel anxious at the end of every school year. After all, non-Saudi students cannot pursue higher study free of charge at state universities in the Kingdom. In fact, only a very rare few are given this option in the form of a scholarship grant.
Otherwise, most expats in the Kingdom, who will have either finished high school at international schools or Saudi government schools, can only pursue higher education at private universities, which charge exorbitant fees that many expats simply cannot afford.
Students at government schools come mainly from Arab countries.
Saudi government universities mostly grant scholarships to foreign students and local expats in the Arabic and Islamic studies disciplines upon the fulfillment of several criteria.
According to online guidelines for scholarship grants in these disciplines, the Ministry of Higher Education has a long list of strenuous requirements. These include the ministry’s age stipulations, where applicants for undergraduate degrees must be between the ages of 17 and 25, 30 years of age for a master’s degree and 35 for a doctoral degree.
In addition, local residents are obliged to obtain approval from their school and must be legally residing in the Kingdom.
Students coming from abroad, meanwhile, must obtain permission from their government and must not have any criminal record.
The ministry website, however, maintains that the same conditions apply for Saudis, expats and students coming in from abroad.
Certificates must be ratified by authorities approved by the local institution to which foreigners and expats are applying. In addition, students have to pass a medical examination in Saudi Arabia.
Local educational institutions may sometimes even require endorsements from reputable institutions or individuals.
Foreign applicants are told to submit their applications to Saudi embassies, which will send the paperwork through to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within a certain timeframe.
Local expats, meanwhile, have been told to apply directly to the Higher Education Ministry, which will provide local universities with candidates’ names. These universities will be required to report the status of the application to the ministry within 30 days.
All these requirements point to the fact that expats often end up with no choice but to seek alternative channels for educating their children, most of whom end up going abroad to neighboring Arab countries. (Arab News)