MOE denies plan to stop scholarship program

Jasir Al-Harbash

By Abdullah Al-Ghamdi

RIYADH — The Ministry of Education (MOE) has no intention of stopping the foreign scholarship program and the very fact that there are more than 10,500 slots available for Saudi students in foreign universities is enough to prove that the program will continue, according to a senior official at the ministry.

“The dispatch of Saudi students to renowned foreign universities will resume in Ramadan (June),” said Jasir Bin Solaiman Al-Harbash, undersecretary for scholarship affairs at the ministry.

He said the allocation of 10,500 university seats this year is enough to silence people who falsely claim that the scholarship program might be halted.

“This is a strategic program and if the number of students does not increase, it will not drop anyway,” he added.

Harbash said 28 government and private departments are partners in the program to provide jobs to the graduates.

He said after short-listing the candidates in April-May, personal interviews will be conducted and the names of accepted students will be announced before the end of summer.

Harbash said currently there are 126,000 male and female students studying abroad under the program who are accompanied by more than 70,000 people as companions.

He put the number of students who are studying at their own expense in Malaysian universities and who are to be added to the program between 700-800.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has ordered that these students be included in the program.

“We are waiting for the details of the royal order,” he added.

Harbash, who is also a supervisor of Saudi cultural attaches, said new blood would be infused in a number of these institutions to upgrade their activities.

“We have recently appointed a cultural attache in Britain and the changes have also covered the cultural attaches in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia,” he said.

Harbash revealed that the ministry with other concerned ministries and government departments are currently working to find a solution to the problem of the foreign exchange fluctuations in a number of countries, especially Britain.

“There are very little or no dropouts from the program. Finding employment for the scholarship students after their graduation is a major element in the National Transformation Program and Saudi Vision 2030,” he said.