The Saudi Arabian public education system includes 29 public universities, 9 private universities, 36 colleges ( and a large number of schools and other institutions. The system is open to all citizens, and provides free education, books and health services. While the study of Islam remains at its core, the modern Saudi educational system also provides quality instruction in diverse fields of arts and sciences. This diversity helps the country prepare its citizens for life and work in a global economy. Formal primary education began in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s. By 1945, King Abdulaziz bin Abdelrahman Al Saud, the country’s founder, created an extensive program to establish schools in Saudi Arabia. The first university, now known as King Saud University, was founded in Riyadh in 1957. In 1954, the Ministry of Education was established, followed by the Ministry of Higher Education in 1975.

The first government school for girls was built in 1964, and by the end of the 1990s girls’ schools had been established in every part of Saudi Arabia. Today, female students make up over half of the nearly 5 million students currently enrolled in Saudi schools and universities. Saudi Arabia has also established a number of educational institutions throughout the world for Saudi students living abroad. The three largest such institutions are located in the United States, Britain and Germany. These schools accommodate students from kindergarten through year 12 grade, and provide instruction in Islam, and the Arabic language as well as the arts and sciences.

King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP)

King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP), launched in 2005, funds over 130,000 young Saudis to undertake tertiary studies abroad. (KASP) provides great opportunities for Saudi students to join the best international universities and pursue studies that lead to bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees, as well as medical fellowships. Academic disciplines and scholarships are selected based on the needs of ministries, and governmental organizations and private sector corporations. This selection aims to meet the demands of labor market in Saudi Arabia by creating a highly qualified and skilled workforce. The prime objective of KASP is to qualify Saudi youth so that they can effectively contribute to the national development across all fields. The Saudi government invests about SR. 9 billion in KASP each year, which provides full funding for about 130,000 sponsored Saudi students studying abroad. At present, the undergraduate fields of study are limited to medicine, medical science and health sciences; however, more options exist for post-graduate studies. The KASP has recently been renewed for another five years to 2019. The goals of KASP are:

• Sponsoring qualified Saudi citizens to study at the best universities around the world.
• Establishing a high level of international academic and professional standards in Saudi Arabia.
• Exchanging scientific, educational and cultural experiences with various countries across the world.

Academic Scholarships in Saudi Arabia for Non-Saudi Students

The Saudi government offers scholarships for non-Saudi students to study at Saudi universities. Interested applicants can apply for any available discipline apart from health fields. Applicants must meet relevant requirements before lodging their applications. Applicants can apply through the universities websites included in the list here and must attach copies of their qualifications attested by DFAT and the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission and a copy of their passport. Eligible students are:

• Non-Saudi students who hold valid Saudi residency permits.
• Non-Saudi students living abroad.

There are three categories of Saudi scholarships:
• Full scholarships: students get all the benefits.
• Partial scholarships: students get some of the benefits. These include scholarships where the academic institution provides just a seat, or a seat and dormitory placement.
• Paid scholarships: these are scholarships paid by donors, not educational institutions.

Scholarships are offered by Saudi Arabian higher education institutions to non-Saudi students aim to provide Australian students with the opportunity of furthering or completing their current studies. The scholarships are offered in the following areas:
1- Arabic Language.
2- Islamic Studies.
3- Islamic History.
4- Islamic Architecture.
5- Other.

More information about scholarships in Saudi Arabia can be found on:

Higher Education Partnership between Saudi Arabia and Australia

A Memorandum of Co-operation in Higher Education was signed in May 2010 between Saudi Arabia and Australia to foster the cooperative ties between the two nations. The Memorandum builds on existing links in higher education between the two countries and confirms the Australian Government’s partnership with Saudi Arabia in higher education. Both governments are committed to sharing information and resources between Australian and Saudi Arabian higher education institutions. The Memorandum encourages research co-operation and the exchange of academic staff, researchers and students between both countries. It would boost educational cooperation between Australia and Saudi Arabia by supporting international scholarships and student mobility. The Memorandum also encourages the translation of each nation’s distinguished research to allow the sharing of expertise.