The Saudi government approved more restrictive eligibility rules for its foreign university scholarship program on Monday Februray 1, 2016, Reuters and the Saudi Gazette reported.
The amendments stipulate that the beneficiaries shall be those who are pursuing their higher studies in most distinguished universities that are classified by the Ministry of Education among the world’s top 50 universities with specializations or among the best 100 universities in the world.
If the student is pursuing university graduation course, he/she should have obtained aggregate points of three out of four or the equivalent points in the first 30 study units in the semester course. For those pursuing higher studies, the aggregate points in degree course or post-graduation course for post-graduation or doctoral courses shall be 3.3 out of 4 points or the equivalent ones, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
For the medicine and engineering courses, the student shall be enrolled in one of the universities approved by the Ministry of Education and the aggregate points in the undergraduate level shall be not less than 2.75 out of 4 points while for master’s degrees, the graduation level points shall be at least three out of four, according to the amendments.
The Saudi government is facing a budget deficit due to low oil prices and is looking for ways to reduce state spending. Saudi Arabia's foreign university scholarship program, started in 2005, has led to big increases in the number of Saudi students at U.S. universities. Nearly 60,000 Saudi students were enrolled at American colleges in 2014-15, making Saudi Arabia the fourth-largest country of origin for international students in the U.S.