Saudi Arabia: Saudi Scholarship Students Prefer to Study in the USA


According to the Ministry of Education, the majority of Saudi students on King Abdullah scholarships prefer to study in the United States.  69,235 students are currently studying in the United States as compared to 326 students who chose Holland as a study destination.

That’s an interesting comparison when Holland actually has more freedoms than the United States but on the other hand, the United States offers a much broader choice of universities.

Sciences, technology and engineering are the most popular choices of majors for Saudi students at 49.2 per cent.  Closely behind at 36.1 per cent are students who have chosen majors in the fields of social sciences, business and law.  Less than 3 per cent of Saudi students choose to major in agricultural studies or humanities.

In 2011 there were 27, 510 Saudi female students enrolled in Universities abroad comprising of 23.3 per cent of the scholarship students.  Female students preferred to major in social science, law and business.

With the increased number of Saudi scholarship students in the United States, there are individuals from various think tanks who believe that the United States must do more to make the Saudi students feel welcomed while they are studying in America.  In their view, they see the Saudi scholarship students as the next generation of a new cadre of leaders in Saudi society who will have the ability to influence and make changes in the Kingdom.  As a result, they see the Saudi scholarship students in the United States as an opportunity to further enhance the US-Saudi relationship and future strategic relations.

In addition to the local university, it is encouraged that local service organizations, schools, nongovernmental organizations, and businesses reach out to the Saudi students.  Saudis should also be encouraged to participate in American family home-stays rather than live in a dormitory or apartment.  The goal is to further immerse the Saudi student in to the American culture while also forge lasting friendships and enhance cultural awareness between Saudi students and their host family. Such exchanges, though not without challenges, would also help alleviate American misconceptions about Saudi Arabia.


American Bedu would welcome the opportunity to interview Saudi students who are in the United States on a scholarship to hear their views, perspectives and experiences.  A Saudi student may contact American Bedu at


9 Responses

  1. I would imagine the desirability of English would make a big difference from many students. If you look at the stats, the UK, Canada and Australia also grab their fair share of Saudis. If I were a Saudi I would probably look towards California, Florida or Texas for the weather. Nothing against Holland here but I cannot imagine the weather be a draw for Saudis.

  2. I have been working in the academic field for that last 5 years or so. I have noticed that the majority of the students and colleagues prefer studying in Europe, specifically, the UK. The reasond behind that is the fear of being not accepted and or discriminated against in the US due to the islamophobic experiences some of the people had there. Another reason is that the educational system in the US, as perceived by Saudis, is harder than the one in the UK. Having said that, I have a couple of friends who are literally depressed for having to come back to KSA after living there for 7 years and being to the priceless freedom which we, saudi women, rarely experience in KSA!

  3. being used to the priceless freedom*

  4. I have always found it interesting that Saudi females will pursue degrees in areas in which they have little hope of obtaining a career due to social and employed restrictions forced on them.

    Unless they intend to use the degree outside the kingdom.

  5. The UK is also much closer to Saudi and that’s one big reason why more Saudis go to the UK.

  6. Perks to studying in the UK is that the degree programmes are typically shorter, but in the US there is a more relaxed lifestyle during college/university years. Some wanted to live in the UK to travel around Europe. Others were much more interested in the US lifestyle. I think a lot of it was simply preference. Most of the Saudis that I knew while in the UK travelled all over Europe during holidays.

  7. Having seen quite a few saudi students, i have seen that in general the women students are more committed and dedicated to theit education, they are also more responsible and hard working.
    Of course the men are good too but most of them lack in the responsibility dept and have a sense of entitlement about them, atleast this is what i have noticed.

    Education is a gift , the best gift in the world.

    int he medical field both men and women could use some better bedside manner. women are a tad bit better but seriously they all need ot brush up on that and humility a bit more.

  8. Why do we chose the U.S.A…to get laid and to get our degree and to get laid!

  9. bassim, you little belly button lint. remember that dirt sticks to dirt. forever.

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