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Insight Into the Saudi International Students Marke


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Saudi Arabia has become one of the top source countries for international students in the world. These slides are from a presentation given by Haitam Giat, Founder and CEO of the student recruitment agency Yes Atlas. Mr Giat reviews the history and details of Saudi scholarship programmes, highlight the most popular programmes amongst Saudi students, and discusses the non-Saudi student market in Saudi Arabia (expatriates). He also discusses challenges, opportunities and tips for building a successful Saudi market.

For ICEF Monitor articles that relate to the Saudi Arabian market, please see

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Published in: Education
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Insight Into the Saudi International Students Marke

  1. 1. Haitam Giat CEO Yes Atlas
  2. 2. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia • Population: 27 million, including nearly 8.5 million expatriates • Currency: Saudi Arabia Riyal (US $1= SAR 3.75) • Religion: Islam, which is the basis of the legal system and the government. • Provinces: It has 13 provinces • Main cities: Riyadh – Capital (5,328,228), Jeddah (3,456,259), Mecca (1,675,368), Madinah (1,180,770), Dammam (903,597)
  3. 3. • Visa for visit is required Citizens of all countries require a visa to visit Saudi Arabia except the citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council Be aware “Visitors holding passports containing any Israeli visas or stamps could be refused entry” Females must have a male companion “Mahram” • Youth demographics It estimated 58% of Saudi Arabia’s population is under the age of 25 – one of the highest youth demographics in the world.
  4. 4. Education System in Saudi Arabia
  5. 5. General education • The system is open to all citizens, and provides students with free education, books and health services. • Islam remains at the core of the modern Saudi educational system • 5 million students are currently enrolled in Saudi schools
  6. 6. General education • There are dedicated schools for Females and dedicated schools for males • There are 30,000 schools in Saudi Arabia • 203 international schools (English curriculum) • The general education system is supervised by the ministry of education
  7. 7. The general education consists of kindergarten, six years of primary school and three years each of intermediate and high school. After elementary and intermediate school, students can choose whether to attend a high school with programs in commerce, the arts and sciences, or a vocational school. In high school, students take comprehensive exams twice a year under the supervision of the Ministry of Education General education
  8. 8. Higher education • 1 million students are currently enrolled in Saudi universities and colleges • Half of the students are female • 25 public universities • 27 private universities
  9. 9. Higher education • Large number of private colleges and community colleges • King Saud University in Riyadh is the oldest since 1957 with 65,000 students • King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah is the biggest, with over 70,000 students
  10. 10. Higher education Higher education in Saudi Arabia lasts four years in the field of humanities and social sciences and five to six years in the field of medicine, engineering and pharmacy • The higher education system is supervised by the ministry of higher education
  11. 11. TVTC colleges (Technical and Vocational Training Corporation) • Largest college with 100 locations in Saudi Arab • More than 120,000 students • Very popular program: 2 years diploma
  12. 12. Saudi students abroad • Over 150,000 students in 30 countries • USA: Over 110,000 students • UK: over 14,000 students • Canada: over 13,000 students • Australia: over 8,000 students • New Zeeland: over 2,000 students • Ireland: over 1,5000 students • China, Malaysia, Germany, France around 1,000 students each
  13. 13. Popular Scholarship programs for Saudi Students • KASP: King Abduallh scholarship program • TVTC : 1+2 scholarship • Ministry of interior scholarship • Ministry of health scholarship program • Saudi Aramco scholarship program
  14. 14. KASP: King Abduallh scholarship program In 2005, King Abdullah implemented a government scholarship program to send young Saudi nationals to Western Universities for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. This program has been extended to 2020.
  15. 15. KASP: King Abduallh scholarship program • The generous scholarship program includes 12 to 18 months of language training and full duration for Bachelor, Master or PHD. • The program provides full funding for approximately 125,000 students to study abroad each year in addition to: • A monthly stipend for living expenses • 100% health insurance for students and dependents • Coverage of costs for attending conferences, workshops, scientific field trips
  16. 16. KASP: King Abduallh scholarship program • Bench fees provided to institution for research materials (up to $5,000 for Master’s and up to $10,000 for PhD) • Merit awards for academic achievements • • Round-trip tickets home annually.
  17. 17. Goals of KASP • Prepare Saudi nationals for better jobs • Reducing the country’s high unemployment levels • They also aim to create a more open society, building bridges with international organizations and communities
  18. 18. KASP Approved list Saudi Students on KASP programs are allowed to study only from an approved list of universities and language centers. The list is maintained by the Saudi culture mission in each country. To be added to the list you must start negotiations with the Saudi culture mission before meeting their strict requirements, including regional accreditation, degree programs offered and percentage of international students on campus. You also have to maintain a relatively low number of Saudi students
  19. 19. KASP Approved list As an education provider, you are very welcome to contact the Saudi culture mission about exploring opportunities for collaborative success. Be aware that the Saudi approved list could be given to an entire education provider or per degree/program.
  20. 20. KASP Approved list An example of an approved list from MOHE website:
  21. 21. Other scholarship programs Almost every ministry in Saudi Arabia, governmental organization, and public University has a scholarship program for current employees and staff. The scholarship program is mainly for graduate studies or for professional training and language studies
  22. 22. Which programs are interesting for Saudi Students Since most of the Saudi students are sponsored they have a list of majors that they can apply for in order to get the scholarship, this list changes almost every year based on the needs of the Saudi labor market. The following programs are always on demand: Medical and Health studies, Engineering and professional majors and MBA.
  23. 23. What are Saudi students’ expectations You need to understand the Saudi culture in order to meet their expectations. • Most of the Saudis have maids and drivers at their homes in Saudi Arabia • Very strict Islamic culture, no mixing between males and females and no alcohol • Relatively very wealthy country.
  24. 24. • The Saudi students expect to be treated as “VIP” students when they first arrive abroad, they expect to live in a nice and luxury accommodation and expect a lot of support from the educational provider in terms of helping and organizing their journey aboard. • The young ones also love to party in the beginning, however a few months later they will take their studies more serious since the Saudi culture mission over see their performance and attendance. • Although Saudis tend to group together, they like to experience new cultures and are very friendly, social students and have a cultural impact on campus.
  25. 25. Self funded students The Saudi students who have not been eligible for one of the scholarships in Saudi Arabia have a second chance to join the KASP scholarship by self funding his/her first 6-12 months studying abroad and then apply for a scholarship. It is most likely he will get the scholarship in case he has maintained good results, good time attendance in one of the approved education provider from MOHE list.
  26. 26. Recruiting in Saudi Arabia • Accept online student bookings directly • Via student recruitment agencies • Fair and education events
  27. 27. IECHE Fair The International Exhibition and Conference on Higher Education (IECHE) is held annually in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), providing an ideal opportunity for discussions leading to bilateral agreements, collaborations in academics and research, student and faculty exchanges, and joint programs.
  28. 28. Cultural and language Considerations Most of the popular education providers who have a large number of Saudi students have Arabic speakers on staff, prayer rooms and have Halal food on demand.
  29. 29. Social Media Marketing in Saudi Arabia Internet access came late to Saudi Arabia but it has spread like wildfire in the past few years, with young Saudi students increasingly using social media, mostly on mobile phones like their peers throughout the world. YouTube is hugely popular in this nation of 28 million, with each internet user watching an average of 7 videos per day, as Facebook (7.8 million users in 2013, 74% men) and Twitter (1.9 million active users, 73% accessed on mobiles)
  30. 30. English language tourism in Saudi Arabia • Saudi Arabia became very open and international country and Since English is the main language in Saudi Arabia business sector and more local universities and high school focus on English studies.
  31. 31. English language tourism in Saudi Arabia The English language tourism became one of the fastest growing markets where thousands of young students and professional employees take short language courses abroad. Mainly during May – October and most popular destinations are the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Malaysia.
  32. 32. Non Saudi students in Saudi Arabia • 8.5 million Out of the 27 Million from the population is non Saudi (expatriates). A big percentage of the 8.5 Million expats have been living in Saudi Arabia for a long time with their families. Since the education system is not free for non- Saudis in Saudi Arabia, a good percentage of the Expat students look for options to study abroad.
  33. 33. Non Saudi students in Saudi Arabia • Unlike the Saudi students where the government pays for the tuition fees, it is sensitive price market and they look for affordable programs which generally range between $10,000 - $20,000 per academic year. • Most of the expatriates student have a high level of English and a good GPA.
  34. 34. Questions?