International Educator - March/April 2013 - 12
Scholarships Bring Record Number of Saudi Students
N 2012 the United States saw record numbers of Saudi Arabian
students enrolled in academic institutions around the country. The
vast majority of these students are able to come to the United States
as recipients of scholarships from the King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP). This program was developed in 2005 after U.S. President
George W. Bush and then Crown Prince Abdullah met to discuss ways
of easing tensions and encouraging cultural understanding between the
two nations after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In addition to helping improve the
relationship between the Saudi and U.S.
citizens, the program offers several other
n■Saudi students get to take advantage of
top-notch graduate and undergraduate programs around the world at no
cost to them. The scholarship pays full
tuition, living expenses, and a once-ayear flight back to Saudi Arabia.
Arabia benefits economically
from having a highly trained, competitive workforce when these students
return. In an effort to encourage
young people to develop the specialized skill sets that will keep Saudi
Arabia competitive in the modern
globalized economy, the program only
funds certain courses of study (primarily STEM fields and language studies).
(This growing group of highly educated young Saudis is important to the
country’s future economic stability, as
79 percent of the Saudi population is
under the age of 40.)
universities, most of which are
in desperate need of cash, leverage
the influx of full-paying international
students, as well as increased cultural
diversity on their campuses.
The program, into which the Saudi
government has made significant financial investments, has grown rapidly each
year since 2005; the number of Saudi
students enrolled in U.S. universities (including enrollment in intensive English
programs) grew from 11,116 in 2006 to
71,026 in 2011, according to a report from
USA Today citing figures from the Saudi
Arabian Cultural Mission to the United
States, which administers the program.
KASP has also grown to include funding
for Saudi students to attend universities
in 21 other countries.
The King Abdullah Scholarship Program is set to continue its expansion. The
Saudi Arabian government has allotted
22 billion riyals (approximately 5.8 billion USD) to be spent on education in
their 2013 budget, according to a report
by Bloomberg News. Saudi Arabia hopes
to send 120,000 students abroad in 2013.
For more information on the King
Abdullah Scholarship Program, visit
INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR M A R + A P R . 13