Saudi scholarship students must obtain more seats in well-known American universities like Harvard and Stanford, says Dr. Mohammed Al-Eissa, Saudi cultural attaché at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, who looks after 80,000 Saudi scholarship students in 51 US states.
He said the Kingdom’s foreign scholarship program would continue to provide talented Saudi students to get higher education at reputable international universities. However, he pointed out that the program would be reviewed regularly to realize its objectives.
Asked about rumors that the scholarship program would be stopped in 2020, he said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has the earnest desire to continue the program. King Salman as well as Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and Education Minister Dr. Ahmed Al-Isa have shown their keenness on continuing the program.
“So I don’t think the program will stop. The idea of foreign scholarship is deep-rooted in the minds of Saudi leadership since the time of the late King Abdullah. However, he emphasized the plan to reduce scholarships for saturated academic subjects and programs.
“We don’t have an upper limit for scholarship students. At the same time, we focus on quality not on quantity,” Al-Eissa said in an interview with Al-Hayat Arabic daily. “We try our best to realize the desire of our students to join the best international universities,” he added.
He described the Saudi cultural attaché in Washington as the largest in the world. “At present we are looking after 80,000 students. There was a time when we used to manage 120,000 students and their dependents, including those studying on their own expenses.”
Al-Eissa said Saudi students who pursue their higher studies abroad on personal expenses would be included in the scholarship program if they get enrolled in one of the top 100 international universities or top 50 universities with regard to those conducting specialized studies.
Thousands of Saudis have started returning to the Kingdom after completing their studies. Last year 5,000 students have graduated from American universities. This year the number will reach about 13,000, Al-Eissa said, adding that Saudi students are spread in 51 US states.
About 580 students study in top 10 universities in the US including Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, and Princeton while 1,600 of them have got medical fellowship. Saudi doctors receive training at outstanding hospitals such as John Hopkins, Cleveland and Mayo Clinic.
“We have signed a contract with a law firm to register Saudi patents to protect the rights of our students and their inventions,” Al-Eissa said. Of the 300 patents registered with US authorities 60 have been approved. Every year 12 patents of Saudi students get recognition, he added.
“Saudi students are coming to the US not to realize the ambition of graduating from an American university but to join a world-class university,” he pointed out. They get admission at US universities after fulfilling difficult conditions. “We assist them to overcome difficulties.”
Al-Eissa advised Saudi students to return to the Kingdom to take various jobs in 37 Saudi universities. “After joining these universities they can apply for higher degree courses at US universities,” he added.