In 2005, the late King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud responded to concerns for the sustainable development of human resources in Saudi Arabia by launching the King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP). Supported by the Saudi Government and implemented by the Ministry of Education (MOE), KASP would become an important source of support for the Kingdom's public and private sectors by developing, qualifying, and preparing human resources. The program would achieve its objectives by sponsoring 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 labour market. Upon completion, graduates would be expected to return to the Kingdom and contribute to the country's development.
A pilot KASP mission consisted of sending a group pf 9,252 young Saudi men and women to study in the United States of America. It proved to be a great success. Within a few years, the scope of KASP was broadened to include a greater number of specializations and countries around the world. What began as a five-year program with a few thousand students in the United States was soon providing tens of thousands with the unprecedented opportunity to pursue language training, Bachelor, Master, PhD programs and medical fellowships abroad, in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.
As KASP graduates of international universities returned to the Kingdom with high academic and professional standards, the success of the program was evident. The program met its original goal of supplying qualified human resources to the Saudi labour market.To date, more than 200,000 Saudi Arabian citizens have been conferred degrees in over 30 countries. In 2015, the Saudi Arabian Government announced that it had allocated SR210 billion, a fourth of its overall budget and an increase from 2014, for the KASP's 10th cycle of students. This is a promising sign for the future of the scholarship program.
To prepare and qualify Saudi Arabian human resources in an effective manner to compete on an international level in the labor market and in scientific research.
Scholarship students are financially supported in the following ways:
SACB can provide Bench Fees for KASP students in the amount of up to $5,000 for Master students and $10,000 for PhD students to cover the cost of consumable items used during their studies. Requests for bench fees are handled by the Department of Academic Relations and Admissions and any enquiries should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. The bench fee approval process normally begins when a graduate-level scholarship student finds a potential supervisor. The chosen research university will provide SACB or the student with a proposal, on letterhead, detailing all items to be purchased (including cost per item) that is signed by the research supervisor, appropriate department chair or school director. The student must submit the request for approval through the Student Portal (the official channel for communication between Academic Advisors and scholarship students) and it will be processed by SACB.
The KASP covers 12 months of English as a Second Language (ESL) preparation to enable students to achieve the required level of academic language proficiency. Undergraduate students receive four years of funding, Master’s students receive two years of coverage, and PhD students are funded for three years. Extensions may be granted in exceptional cases.
Upon arrival in Canada, scholarship recipients contact SACB to perform the following tasks:
An Academic Advisor is assigned to a scholarship student depending on the phase of study (ESL, undergraduate, graduate, etc). The Academic Advisor is responsible for initiating tuition payments, issuing Financial Guarantees/Sponsorship Authority Certifications, and following up on each student’s progress.
*The Consent Form authorizes the SACB to access and obtain academic information on a student's behalf throughout the duration of his/her studies in Canada. The Consent Form declares that the student gives unconditional and irrevocable consent and direction to educational and medical agencies/associations, in which they are a member, to release information which the academic institution may possess or acquire in relation to the student, including all academic and other records, to SACB. The Consent Form, created by SACB’s Legal Department, aligns with Canada’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and is widely accepted by universities and colleges across Canada.
Scholarship students are encouraged to study English at recognized centres in Saudi Arabia, as this is will increase chances of admission to Canadian post-secondary institutions and prepare them for further studies in English if it is required. Students who are confident in their language skills may choose to fulfil the language proficiency requirements of their desired academic program by undertaking an English proficiency exam (such as IELTS or TOEFL) and providing the test core to the institution as evidence of having met the required level. Others, who do not meet the language proficiency requirements for direct entry to academic programs at Canadian post-secondary institutions, will enroll in intensive ESL programs at private and public ESL schools in Canada that have been approved by the SACB. Students who choose the latter option are funded for language training for up to 12 months, during which time they are expected to receive a minimum of 20 hours of group instructed ESL per week.
The MOE maintains a detailed list of all universities and colleges that students are allowed to attend in all countries to which KASP students are sent. The directory has been published in accordance with a set of criteria approved by the MOE and is updated annually. This list is based on careful scrutinization and research of how well the programs serve the purpose of the KASP students who are sent to study abroad. Scholarship students are permitted to register at Canadian institutions for academic programs that have been pre-approved by MOE. Most certificate and diploma programs, online or distance-learning courses, and programs designed specifically for international students are not approved.
There are two types of Financial Guarantee letters - those provided to students for Admissions Purposes Only, and those which are issued directly from SACB to Canadian post-secondary institutions after a student has registered for academic study. Students sponsored by KASP will often provide academic institutions with an Admissions Purposes Only Financial Guarantee letter during the application phase. This document is issued by SACB to KASP students in Canada and states that upon admission to the degree program, SACB will pay the student’s registration, tuition, bench fees (if applicable), health insurance, and provide a monthly stipend. Once the student accepts an offer of admission from a Canadian university or college, and the program meets the requirements of the scholarship awarded to that student, SACB will issue a final Financial Guarantee letter, also known as a Sponsorship Authority Certification. This letter is confirmation that the SACB will be financially responsible for that student.