Sunday, July 29, 2012

WSJ: Saudi Students Flood In as U.S. Reopens Door

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article entitled, Saudi Students Flood In as U.S. Reopens Door by ELLEN KNICKMEYER, describing the new sponsorship programme of King Abdullah of KSA which has sent around 60,000 Saudi students seeking Bachelor's and Master's degrees to American universities and 130,000 worldwide (which is about 1 out of every 200 Saudi persons) since 2005.

After a personal plea to President GW Bush by King Abdullah, America opened its universities' doors to Saudi students. The King covers the cost of tuition as well as gives a living allowance to the students. Under the scholarship, students have up to 18 months to study intensive English abroad to bring their language level up to university standards before being admitted to a university.

Almost all students return home as part of the scholarship agreement the students sign to participate in the programme stipulating that the graduates will work in certain government selected fields for several years in remuneration for the cost of education. Saudi is in the planning stages of building several international economic cities such as 'King Abdullah Economic City' all meant to internationalize and diversify the economy in the future.

King A and GW
It seems to be a win-win for everyone; Saudi students receive exposure and good education while their western counterpart's educational environment is enriched through cultural diversity - learning about Saudi culture and making Saudi friends all while American universities receive much needed fees during the economic downturn.

In Oman, we hear of only a handful of such scholarship programs such as through the US Fulbright programme. Oman has definitely improved and enhanced the education of its citizens through the founding and building of universities and university programs over the last 30 years (which should be applauded despite current criticisms reported as the system basically went from almost nothing to something). However, a scholarship programme such as the Saudi programme (even on a smaller scale) would definitely augment the current education students receive here in Oman and better equip them with skills fit for a modern economy.

Thus, it would reduce the need to import 'middle manager' expat workers from abroad to keep things running as it seems happening today; for example, most company's managers are from abroad and most reporters and editors from English print newspapers are mostly from the outside.

Excerpt: Saudi Students Flood In as U.S. Reopens Door

'Saudi Arabia's international scholarship program, launched when Saudi King Abdullah took the throne in 2005, is a key part of his efforts to equip future generations in handling the country's main challenges, including a fast-growing population and declining oil reserves.

Since taking over, the Saudi king has emphasized scientific education and exposure to foreign countries as keys to combat religious extremism and transform Saudi Arabia into a modern state. This year, the scholarship program has about 130,000 young people studying around the world, at an estimated cost of at least $5 billion since the program began.'

'Some of Saudi Arabia's harsher critics have supported the scholarship program. "If anybody is going to modernize [Saudi] society, it's going to be people" with exposure to the West, said Elliott Abrams, a conservative policy analyst who served in two Republican administrations. "In that sense I'm all in favor of it."

No comments:

Post a Comment