Designing a National Science and Technology Graduate Scholarship Program | SRI International

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building on the KACST campus

National Science and Technology Graduate Scholarship Program Design

SRI designed the main features of a new program to nurture Saudi Arabia's next generation of world-class researchers, educators, and innovators in science and technology.

From its launch in 2005, Saudi Arabia’s international scholarship program has supported Saudi students to attend and graduate from the world’s leading universities. Of the 130,000 Saudis currently studying outside of Saudi Arabia, approximately 88,000 are said to have received scholarships through the program. While the program has been instrumental in promoting the internationalization of Saudi education and fostering scientific education and exposure to foreign countries among Saudi young people, the establishment of a new national program to support graduate level scholarship in science and technology within the Kingdom was identified as a key feature of Saudi Arabia’s National Science, Technology and Innovation Plan (NSTIP).

As the coordinator of the NSTIP, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) commissioned SRI to conceptualize and design the main features and structures of this new national program. In doing so, SRI conducted a range of activities:

  • Conducted stakeholder interviews to review existing modes of support to graduate-level S&T education in the Kingdom and for Saudi Arabian nationals studying overseas
  • Explored the key challenges facing Saudi Arabian S&T master and doctoral candidates, and gaps in the system supporting graduate-level S&T studies
  • Conducted a comparative review of thirteen models to encourage graduate study and research in seven countries
  • Interviewed university leadership, senior staff and S&T professors and researchers, S&T graduate students, and KACST researchers and leadership

Designed to complement the efforts of the Ministry of Higher Education and individual universities, and targeting areas of educational development and capacity building not currently being addressed in the Kingdom, SRI recommended a series of operating mechanisms, structures, guidelines, and frameworks to support KACST in its planning of the National Science and Technology Graduate Scholarship Program.