Nova Scotia

Saudi scholarship uncertainty may affect Nova Scotia student numbers

As university students return, there are rumblings of uncertainty around a program that has paid for thousands of Saudi students to attend North American universities since 2005.

Future of King Abdullah scholarships appears to be uncertain

Cape Breton University believes its numbers of Saudi students has been affected by uncertainty over international scholarships from that country. (cbu.ca)

As university students return, there  are rumblings of uncertainty around a program that has paid for thousands of Saudi students to attend North American universities since 2005.

The King Abdullah scholarships have remained in place after the death of the Saudi monarch but in Nova Scotia there are hints some things may be changing. 

International students make up 20 per cent of the enrolment at Nova Scotia universities and one of the biggest groups where the state pays all expenses are the Saudis.

Those students accounted for one in eight students — 420 — at Cape Breton University a few years ago.

But CBU president David Wheeler says it hasn't received any new students from that group for two years and the numbers have dropped to below 200.

CBU has diversified its recruiting to retain the same level of international students.

In Halifax, universities say it is too soon to tell if their numbers are down.

Meanwhile, two schools that deliver English language training and university preparation to Saudi students will close next month. They are the International Language Institute and King George International College.

The manager at the College says the numbers of Saudi students is down across Canada even though the new king says the Abdullah scholarships will continue until 2020.

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