By Ashton Hensley
The scholarship that allows many of Indiana State University’s Saudi Arabian students to study abroad may no longer be available. The scholarship may now only be available at schools that are on the list of the top 100 schools.
The program in question is called the King Abbdullah Scholarship Program (KASP) which was launched by the Saudi Arabian king Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in 2005.
John Beacon, the senior vice president of enrollment management, explained the purpose for the program.
“The objective of this program is to sponsor academically distinguished Saudi citizens to study in the world’s best universities, in degree specializations that were selected in accordance with the needs of the Saudi labor market,” Beacon said.
Beacon said that ISU had once enrolled 12 Saudi Arabian students. That number grew to 550 by 2015. The requirements to receive the scholarship were steep, including students having to be in the top 10 percent of their secondary school class. That is because the program covers many expenses.
“English proficiency training (if necessary), full tuition in an academic program, a monthly stipend for living, 100 percent health coverage, travel costs to and from Saudi Arabia and merit scholarships (if qualified),” Beacon said. “The length of study coved for an undergraduate degree is four years, so the expectation is they will be full-time enrolled and earn 120 credits in four years.”
Beacon also put other rumors about the scholarship to rest. He said that the program has been so successful that it has been extended to at least 2020. Even though ISU many not be on the list of top 100 schools, Beacon said that it has still been chosen for its students to receive the scholarship.
“The scholarship is available to far more than just 100 schools across the world, and yes, ISU is one of the schools the Saudi Government has designated as a recipient of the KASP award,” Beacon said.
It was also mentioned that there is a possibility of the Saudi Arabian government having to cut back on scholarships. Along with the lower price of oil, there are several factors that could end up affecting students.
“With the passing of King Abbdullah and with the price of a barrel of crude near the lowest that it has been in several years, there is talk the Saudi government may make cutbacks to the number of scholarships available to its citizens going forward,” Beacon said.
Since this is a possibility, Beacon explained some of the steps that would be taken in the event that scholarships are cut for the Saudi Arabian students as well as the university. The loss of Saudi Arabian students would have a large effect on the school’s diversity.
“It is likely, should this occur, Saudi students currently enrolled would be funded to finish their degrees,” Beacon said. “With cutbacks a possibility, more than a year ago we began to more broadly diversify our international student population by extending and expanding our existing marketing into China, India and Brazil.”
As of right now the scholarship for the Saudi Arabian students is still in place. Though there is a possibility of scholarships being cut in the future, the success of the KASP is keeping it afloat.