Scholarship program: From 14 students in 1935 to 78,000 now


Saudi Gazette report

The first batch of Saudis in the foreign scholarship program consisted of just 14 students in 1354 Hijri year (1935). This batch was sent abroad on scholarship in line with the order of the Kingdom’s founder King Abdulaziz Bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud.

The first batch of scholarship students sent to Egypt included Ahmed Qadi, Omar Qadi, Fuad Wafa, Abdullah Nazer, Ahmed Al-Arabi, Waliyyudin As’ad, Muhammad Shata, Saleh Al-Khateeb, Hamza Qabil, Omar Naseef, Abdulmajeed Matbouli, Muhammad Bahanshab, Abdullah Bahanshal, and Ibrahim Muhieddin Hakeem to complete their university studies in specializations like the Shariah legislation, technical education, agriculture, medicine and teaching.

The cost for sending the 14 students on scholarship was 1,600 pounds annually in addition to paying each student 100 pounds for personal use.

After the discovery of oil in 1938, the country entered a new phase and the scholarships increased to Lebanon and some other Arab countries, and even beyond to the European countries, the US and Australia.

With the discovery of new oil reserves and wells, the Kingdom’s importance at the global level started increasing and its students were sent to many more countries.

At about the same time, King Abdulaziz ordered construction of the Kingdom’s first government secondary school.

After the return of the first batches of the scholarship students to the Kingdom, a new phase began in the economy and development with the main focus on an individual and his participation in the economic advancement and development in different fields.

Any keen observer of the advancement of the Kingdom’s education system will notice gradual and systematic changes as a result of the leadership’s deep-rooted belief in the importance of knowledge and education.

These are deemed the two most important pillars in building the society by seeking prestigious institutions of learning, which are strong in their fields of specialization so that the graduates return to their country armed with the know-how that will lift their country to a higher status.

The building and development plans and programs began to expand gradually with a simultaneous expansion in the foreign scholarship program to the extent that the number of male and female scholarship students to various universities abroad during recent years exceeded 77,533.