Saudi Arabia to Transfer its students from Sudan to other countries over political instability

Compiled by Samuel Ouga.

–Saudi Arabia will no longer allow its students to study in Sudanese universities and will seek to transfer existing ones to other countries to continue their schooling, an embassy official said.

In an interview with London-based al-Hayat newspaper the Saudi cultural attaché in Khartoum Manee al- Mutairi said that Sudan has become an unsuitable educational destination for Saudi Students due to the political situation which he said does not provide neither the security nor a a healthy environment for learning.

The Saudi diplomat further said the Ministry of Higher Education would bring back its students on scholarships from Sudan until they get clarity on their situation given the closure of some universities. He said that the ministry will cover the expenses of students wishing to relocate to other countries to complete their studies.

He noted the case of Gezira university which was closed this month following clashes that erupted with police over deaths of four Darfuri students.

Those students will also have the option of enrolling in community colleges in Saudi Arabia and the ministry will facilitate the admission and registration procedures for them.

Al-Mutairi pointed out that he recently met with the Minister of Higher Education and his deputy and discussed the situation of Saudi students in Sudan. He said they agreed to urge Saudi students in Sudan not to complete their studies there except for graduating seniors.

He stressed that Saudi students studying as part of the country’s scholarship program should be sent to “advanced” countries to receive “advanced” education in order to get “good scientific output”.

The diplomat revealed that a delegation was sent by Saudi Arabia to Sudan for the purpose of assessing the general and educational conditions of the country. He said that based on their recommendations the Saudi government no longer accepts scholarship requests from students wishing to study in Sudan.

There are no current figures on numbers of Saudi students studying in Sudan but it is likely to be in the low hundreds.

Saudi Arabia sends tens of thousands of its students abroad to continue their studies in foreign universities under a scholarship program.

The stated goal of the program, which the Arab News daily in December reported cost more than 20 billion riyals ($5.3 billion), is to prepare Saudi nationals to replace expatriate workers in better-paid technical jobs in the kingdom, reducing unemployment.

This year alone about 130,000 Saudi students are studying abroad, half of them in the United States, the U.S. ambassador to Riyadh James Smith was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Saudi Arabia allows its students to enroll in four Sudanese universities only for the bachelor’s degrees including Khartoum university, Omdurman Islamic University, Neelain University and Gezira University. Only Khartoum university however is recommended for post-graduate studies.

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