(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) The Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) has awarded 7,000 scholarships to students of private institutions this year based on the Royal Directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.The ministry has also provided financial support to a number of private higher education institutions for their expansion plans across the sultanate, a statement from the MoHE said.The financial support was equivalent to 50 per cent of their total expansion costs, which didn't exceed RO3mn.This is in addition to the grant of RO17mn provided to each private university as per the Royal Directives of His Majesty the Sultan including Sohar University, Dhofar University, Nizwa University, Buraimi University and Sharqiyah University.Meanwhile, 22 private higher education institutions received land from the government in 2012 for expansion programmes and at least 12 institutions have shifted to new premises.'The buildings of another ten private higher education institutions are still under construction,' the statement added.According to the ministry statement, there are currently five universities and 19 colleges spread across the sultanate. 'Some new private higher education institutions are likely to come up in future,' it said.MoHE is also awarding 1,000 scholarships over a period of five years to pursue higher studies abroad based on Royal Directives. As per the directives, 150 scholarships are being awarded to pursue master's and 50 for doctoral programmes every year.'The statement added that ministry was pleased with the response on 16 Sultan Qaboos Academic Chairs in different universities and institutions across the world. 'A number of academicians have been invited to create awareness on these educational chairs.'Meanwhile, these scholarships have enabled more number of students to pursue studies at private institutions in Oman and abroad.