IIE Networker - Fall 2007 - (Page 45)

Knowledge Network Sponsored Students The Saudi Scholarship Program Opportunities and Challenges By Jamal Alsayyed Responding to an invitation by the Institute of International Education, representatives from ten U.S. universities gathered at IIE’s headquarters in New York City in March 2007 to discuss the rapid expansion of Saudi student flows to the United States and to identify the challenges and opportunities arising from the new Saudi Scholarship Program. The Saudi Scholarship Program The Saudi Scholarship Program (also known as the Diamond Scholarship Program), supported by the Saudi government and recognized as a culminating effort of then-Prince Abdullah’s visit to Crawford, Texas, has since multiplied the number of scholarships awarded to young Saudi men and women to enroll in U.S. colleges and universities. The number of these scholarships has varied each year, but according to the Saudi Cultural Division in Washington, D.C. (the administrative arm of the scholarship), about 12,000 Saudi students are currently enrolled in U.S. institutions. The Saudi Cultural Division anticipates a potential increase to 22,000 in the coming years. The majority of these students are attending English-language institutes in preparation of their matriculation into degree programs. The presence of this large number of Saudi students on U.S. campuses has undoubtedly presented challenges for administrators and faculty, U.S. Consulate and State Department officials, and the Saudi Cultural Division in Washington, D.C. But the presence of Saudi students has also provided a great oppor- tunity to extend a bridge of understanding and cooperation between the peoples of these two nations. • Accommodating for the disconnect between some students’ interests in highly competitive programs and actual skills and credentials. What Are the Challenges for U.S. Host Campuses? The increase of Saudi students applying for study in the U.S. has brought about challenges related to the placement of students at the domestic and interna- Recommendations on Admitting Students Admission officers and international student advisors, faced with this large increase in the number of applications The presence of Saudi students supports universities’ goals in advancing diversity and fosters civic engagement among today’s students. tional level. Some of these challenges identified at the IIE roundtable discussion included: • Placing a larger number of student applicants despite limited staffing at the U.S. Consulates in Saudi Arabia. • Increased visa applications requiring additional security clearances in Washington. • Discerning students’ real skill sets and criteria for eligibility for academic programs from Saudi Arabia, discussed ways to cope with this new demand and integration. The most successful strategies among U.S. universities included: • Demonstrating a degree of flexibility when evaluating credentials and recognizing those students who have somewhat poor test-taking skills. • Allowing students to enroll in an academic course during their English-language preparation or in a non-degree course to assess their eligibility.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2007

IIE Networker - Fall 2007
Message from Allan E. Goodman
Up Front: The International Education Diary
Investing in Our Future: Reaching Underserved Audiences through International Academic Exchanges
IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series A Conversation with Brown University President
National Policies for International Education
New Zealand
United Kingdom
Sponsored Students
Project Atlas: A Coordinated Approach to Measuring Global Student Mobility
The Browser: Index of Advertisers

IIE Networker - Fall 2007