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New Saudi scholarship excludes English language funding

The Saudi authorities introduced updates to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Scholarship Program in early March, sharing its aim of sending 70,000 college students overseas by 2030. 

However the brand new program is not going to fund English language research in English-speaking international locations together with America, the UK and Canada – a major change from Saudi Arabia’s earlier scholarships. 

Anders Ahlund, president of gross sales and advertising at EF language colleges, stated that Saudi Arabia is a vital marketplace for the corporate and that the exclusion of ESL is “disappointing to the business in search of post-covid restoration”. 

Nonetheless, he added that the brand new scholarship is “very beneficiant” and “will enhance pupil mobility”. 

“Many of the Saudi college students that examine within the US are sponsored, and these college students will doubtless not proceed in the event that they lose authorities help”

The Saudi Arabian authorities has stated the brand new program is suitable with different scholarships, however it’s unclear if the present paths will proceed on the similar scale. 

Language colleges may see a “vital downturn” if different packages are phased out, stated Luke Frerichs, president of FLS Worldwide, a gaggle of USA-based language colleges. 

“Many of the Saudi college students that examine within the US are sponsored, and these college students will doubtless not proceed in the event that they lose authorities help.” 

The King Abdullah Scholarship Program, launched in 2005, despatched over 10,000 college students to the US in its first 12 months, with 95% of scholarship college students present process a 12 months of English language coaching. 

“Within the heyday of the KASP program, this system appeared to function extra as an entitlement than a scholarship, and FLS, along with many faculties, had a really massive Saudi inhabitants in any respect of our centres,” Frerichs stated.  

However KASP has develop into much less beneficiant over time, with stricter necessities launched in 2016 decreasing the variety of eligible college students. The Kingdom famously pulled its scholarship help for college students in Canada in 2018, following a diplomatic spat after Canada’s overseas minister Chrystia Freeland criticised Saudi Arabia’s human rights document.

In a latest press convention, Hamad Al-Sheikh, the nation’s minister of schooling, stated that English language preparation could be supplied regionally, together with at Saudi universities.

Underneath the brand new program, college students can be divided into 4 streams, together with the “supplier path” which is able to facilitate scholarships to the highest 200 academic establishments on the planet. 

“The need to put the perfect Saudi college students into the perfect universities on the planet is a worthy authorities program,” stated Frerichs. 

“However I additionally hope and imagine that the Saudi authorities will see the advantage of persevering with to help their residents that may profit from attending a college that’s not among the many elite, and in addition the mandatory language coaching to help that examine.”



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