Education - Saudi Arabia


The education department works on improving the relationships and cooperations between the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia in the field of education.

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Already since the establishment of the Kingdom in 1932 education has been a top priority within the government' s policy. Under King Abdulaziz bin Abdelrahman Al-Saud the focus was on increasing the level of education of the Saudi population, which led to an increase in primary schools. The demand for higher education increased and in 1957 the first university was established: King Saud University (KSU). Since then there has been a rapid development of the educational system in Saudi Arabia and at the moment the Kingdom counts 33 universities.

Over the last few years education has become of even greater importance in the government’s policy because of Saudi Arabia’s goal to become a knowledge-based economy in 2025. In this manner they hope to diversify their budget revenues, of which currently 80% is raised by the oil industry. To reach this aim the kingdom is investing great sums of money in the educational sector and in knowledge of other countries in this field.

In this light the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands have started cooperation’s in the educational sector. This was started off with a Memorandum of Cooperation between the two parties, signed in 2009. It has become clear that both countries can profit a lot from this cooperation and the ties have been intensified since.
The Netherlands has a rich history in the field of education and research. Already in 1575 the first university was built in the Netherlands (Leiden) and since then we have been focused on expanding and improving our higher education. Nowadays there are 13 research universities in the Netherlands, which are all placed in the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), and 39 universities of applied science.

With over 2100 courses (BA,MS and PhD) taught in English the Netherlands is the largest provider of English-taught courses in continental Europe.  Among other things this has resulted in international classrooms, namely more than 14% of all the students in the Netherlands are international students. This offers students the opportunity to learn from each other and come in touch with other cultures.

Another important focus point within the Dutch education sector is research. In this we have been really successful, ranked first in the impact of research publications.

We are constant trying to improve by sharing knowledge with other countries and by offering our students the possibility to study abroad. On the other hand we offer foreign students to visit our country and be part of our education system. In this manner we can share knowledge and work on improving education worldwide.

Saudi – Dutch cooperations

Saudi Arabia is an interesting country to have corporations with in the field of education because of economic, academic and cultural reasons. First of all the government supports students to study abroad with the King Abdullah Scholorship Programme (KASP), now called the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques programme. Since the establishment of this programme in 2005, already over 200,000 students have had the possibility to study abroad fully funded.

Next to this it is beneficial for the bilateral and cultural relations between the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia to exchange students. This results in a better understanding of each other’s culture what enhances the possibilities for corporation in other fields.

After the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation in 2009 the ties between the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia have gotten stronger in the field of Education. This has become visible by for instance the participation of Dutch universities in the annual International Exhibition on Education and Higher Education (IECHE). This year a record number of 6 Dutch universities participated in this event. During the IECHE these universities have the chance to promote their studies to Saudi students and to come in touch with Saudi universities.

Next to this the number of Saudi students in the Netherlands is growing. Currently 566 Saudi students are following their complete undergraduate study in the Netherlands, around 100 students visit Dutch universities for a semester and more and more PhD students are finding their way to the Netherlands.

In this light the King Saud University (KSU) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with one of the biggest universities in the Netherlands, the University of Groningen. By signing of this MoU the spirit of partnership was emphasized.

For more information on the Dutch educational institutions, study programs or for general information please visit the following websites or use the contact form.

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