Saudi Arabia is known for its prestigious higher education institutions and is a popular study destination among international students. Having a diverse environment, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has attracted thousands of international students to its universities by offering generous scholarships and an excellent curriculum. Most courses are taught in English while promoting creativity and innovation that complement and advance the student’s educational experience.
A total of 16 Saudi Arabia universities have featured in the QS World University Rankings 2023, and 7 universities have been listed among the world’s top 1,000 universities in the 2022 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). Saudi Arabia is becoming a central hub for higher education, particularly in STEM subjects.
Travelling to Saudi Arabia is also now easier than ever, as its national carrier Saudi Airlines carries passengers from major cities around the world to the Kingdom every day of the week.
Read on to learn more about why studying in Saudi Arabia is an option worth considering.
Applying to a university in Saudi
You can start by exploring universities in the country to find a suitable course for you. If you are eligible for the course, you must check the requirements to apply to that particular university on its official website and fill out the application form. Some high-ranking institutions in Saudi Arabia are King Abdulaziz University, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, King Saud University and Alfaisal University. After applying for admission to a university in Saudi Arabia, you will need to be issued a student visa from the Saudi government to study there.
You may also apply for a study exchange program, although most are based on degrees such as a Master’s or PhD, which you would need to complete in Saudi Arabia itself. You can look up each course to learn about eligibility and application requirements.
Tuition and housing fee
The fee for each institution will vary according to the course you opt for, the duration of the study and whether you have received a scholarship or similar study aid. Those without a scholarship or funding assistance can expect to pay around USD 6,000 for an undergraduate course, and the fee could be relatively higher for a master’s degree.
As for living expenses in Saudi, you can expect the cost of private accommodation to be anywhere between SAR 3,500 SAR (USD 800) and SAR 4,500 (USD 1,050). Some universities offer students accommodation; however, most of these might involve a shared room or apartment with other international students.
Visiting Saudi Arabia on your own or with your family to scope out the living situation prior to moving there can be an option to prepare yourself. Affordable Riyadh hotels and Jeddah hotels are easily available to book for yourself or your family for these preliminary trip.
Healthcare facilities for students
International students and expats living in Saudi Arabia need to have health insurance. Most Expats and foreigners in Saudi Arabia have access to private hospitals, clinics, and health centres, whereas; public sector employees and citizens of Saudi have medical insurance through the government’s free coverage under the public healthcare system.
The government’s strategic framework, ‘Saudi Vision 2030,’ is directed toward boosting the privatization of the healthcare system to diversify the country’s economy and cut down on expenditures – but at the moment, public healthcare in Saudi Arabia is free for citizens.
Applying for a student visa
As mentioned earlier, international students will need a study visa to enter the Kingdom and study. They can apply for a student visa in their home country itself and will require documents like:
- - A confirmed admission at a degree program at a recognized Saudi university or educational institution
- - Valid passport
- - Original high school diploma certificate
- - A visa referral note, issued by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- - Birth certificate
- - Proof of visa fee payment
- - Medical certificate issued by a licensed doctor
- - A police clearance report
Student life in Saudi Arabia
While you must meet your academic commitments and submit your assignments on time, it is also essential to take a break and enjoy life as a student every now and then. As a student, you can get acquainted with your peers and teachers to gain insight into a broad range of world cultures and knowledge.
International students are not allowed to work while studying in Saudi Arabia. But those who plan to stay in the country after completion of their degree will be able to find some great work opportunities in their chosen field. Industries such as petroleum, finance, healthcare, IT, teaching, telecommunications and construction hire foreign workers in Saudi.