(MENAFN - Arab News) The number of Saudis studying in the United States has soared recently with more than 50,000 of them currently enrolled in US colleges and universities, reflecting the strong relationship between Washington and Riyadh in the education sector and other fields.
Sixty-nine universities, colleges and institutes from the US are participating in this year's International Exhibition and Conference for Higher Education (IECHE). These institutions represent the broad spectrum of post-secondary education opportunities in the US, said US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James B. Smith in a statement.
He said the Saudi students would find that United States is home to many of the world's leading colleges and universities, "As you explore the options for post-secondary education, whatever path you choose to follow for higher education, I wish you success."
The US Embassy's Senior Education Adviser Karen M. Bauer told Arab News that so far 500 Saudi students had visited their stand and registered online.
She said the education counselor offices at the US Embassy and consulate are certified counseling centers affiliated to the US Department of State and perform services free of charge.
She said advisory offices do not endorse or rank any college or university, nor do they endorse services provided by companies or organization in the areas of test preparation, admissions, placement, language training or visa procurement.
Basic services available from the education advising offices include college counseling and guidance, standardized test information, bulletins, handouts and education-related publications, like "Study in the USA" presentations on summer programs, undergraduate, graduate, law, medicine, distance learning. "We have also pre-departure orientations, such as students preparing to study in the US and proctoring."
Among important American universities participating this year include California Institute of Technology or Cal Tec, a private research university in the city of Pasadena. For science, practice, and business of the world of aviation and aerospace, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is offering these courses.
Located in the heart of Washington, DC, the George Washington University (GW) enrolls a diverse, motivated, and active students body from all 50 states and 125 countries. Founded in 1876, John Hopkins University is a world renowned, fully accredited private university, the first research university in America. Menlo College offers an innovative undergraduate management curriculum that is built on a strong foundation in the liberal arts. There is also the Ohio State University that is committed to becoming a preeminent global university that prepares its students and faculty to participate in knowledge-based collaborations around the world.
Another university, an independent research institute with 13,500 undergraduates students and 5,000 graduate students is Syracuse University, where 124 countries study in over 200 academic programs. Tufts University is well known for its internationalism and study abroad programs. The University of Chicago has a longstanding reputation as one of the world's great intellectual communities.
Yukiko Constantinescu, the head of culture and education at the Embassy of Japan told Arab News in an exclusive interview that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Monbukagakusho: MEXT) of the Japanese government has been inviting international students to study in Japan on the state's expense since 1954. Applications should be made through Japanese embassies or consulate-generals abroad or Japanese universities.
She said Japan has 23 participants this year from 15 participants in the first year now that Japanese universities are more interested and keen to participate. "This indicates the importance of the event for Japanese," she said, adding that most Saudi are studying engineering in Japan and some of these students who are now with them here have invented Arabic-speaking robots. She was proud to say that the current Saudi Ambassador to Japan Dr. Abdul Aziz Turkistani was the first scholar of her country. "He speaks very fluently in Japanese," she added. The Japanese official assured prospective students going to Japan not to worry about the effects of the earthquake that hit Japan last year.
On his part Mohammed Alshehri, PR director general at the King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM), said 60 percent of Saudis at managerial posts at SABIC are KFUPM graduates, pointing out that a recent survey conducted by Aramco showed that their products were the best or number one in terms of quality and professionalism among ARAMCO staff, adding that the Saudi government has allocated SR1.2 billion to the university.
The rapid growth of KFUPM is related to the rapid economic and technical development of the Kingdom. It also reflects the rising expectations of the people of Saudi Arabia, the expanding opportunities for the country's young men, and the increasing importance of the Kingdom as a major source of the world's energy.
The vast petroleum and mineral resources of the Kingdom pose a complex and exciting challenge for scientific, technical, and management education. To meet this challenge, the university has adopted advanced training in the fields of science, engineering, and management as one of its goals in order to promote leadership and service in the Kingdom's petroleum and mineral industries.
The university also furthers knowledge through research in these fields. In addition, because it derives a distinctive character from its being a technological university in the land of Islam, the university is unreservedly committed to deepening and broadening the faith of its Muslim students and instilling in them an appreciation of the major contributions of their people to the world of mathematics and science. All areas of KFUPM - facilities, faculty, students, and programs - are directed to the attainment of these goals.
Talking about how they grant scholarships, he said: "We do it through the Saudi Olympiad competition. For instance we take the first 10 winners of the Olympiad in mathematics and give them scholarship."
With regard to accepting foreign students, he said there are certain criteria that need to be met, adding the university would like to welcome them.
Alshehri said KFUPM is an institution of higher learning committed to preparing professionals empowered with the knowledge, skills, values and confidence to take a leadership role in the development of the Kingdom in the fields of science, engineering, environmental design and business. It also produces research that contributes to the knowledge and sustainable development of the Kingdom and region by providing innovative solutions to identified economic and technical problems and opportunities.
He added: "KFUM is providing a stimulating campus environment for the welfare of its students, faculty and staff, and offering outstanding professional services and out-reach programs to the society at large."
Arab News also spoke to Saudi students who were at the expo to inquire about universities that would offer them a good education. Sattam Al-Qadadi, 17 from Manarat Al-Riyadh Schools, was very delighted to see all these great universities that traveled all the way from their country to Riyadh. "We are happy to see such universities present here, they made things easy for us," Al-Qadaid told Arab News.
Another 17-year-old Saudi Majid Al-Turki, who is currently studying at Dar Uloom in Riyadh, said he and his friends are thinking of pursuing their studies abroad and probably in the US.
Reacting to a recent lecture regarding some difficulties that Saudi students face when they study in the US such as language problems, they said it is up to students to want to learn a second language and they made sure that they spoke in English to their friends and family.