Apart from being the world’s top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia also holds higher education in high regard by introducing several initiatives, like the provision of tuition-free education for Saudi students and other international students at public universities.
Additionally, the country offers several scholarship opportunities that international students can take advantage of to lower their academic costs.
If you are looking to study at affordable universities or at no cost in Saudi Arabia, here are five of the best tuition-free universities to consider.
Must-know Facts for Students Planning to Study in Saudi Arabia
Tuition-Free Learning Opportunities in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has a few tuition-free universities in addition to several other financial aid opportunities available for international students. While several universities do not offer tuition-free education to international students, other partial and full-ride scholarships can significantly help lower study costs.
Additionally, students from the Arab region or with the same religious background are exempt from paying tuition. They also receive several other benefits like free textbooks, a monthly stipend, and a free round-trip to enable them to visit their families.
General Requirements and Admissions Process
While the admission process may vary with the university, there are general steps employed by the majority of the institutions:
- Choosing a university and program of choice
- Checking eligibility requirements like academic qualifications and language requirements. The majority of Saudi Arabian universities offer English-taught programs, hence English language proficiency is mandatory. Some of the English language exams accepted include IELTS and TOEFL.
- Preparing and submitting all the required documentation
- Submitting your application and waiting for a decision from the university
If you receive an offer for admission, you can go ahead and complete the enrollment procedures like getting a visa, paying the application, and tuition fees, and applying for available scholarship opportunities.
Since many universities in Saudi Arabia do not offer tuition-free education to international students, another great avenue to lower academic costs is through scholarships. Fortunately, there are several scholarships offered by universities, the government, and other organizations to cater for tuition and other study expenses. Let’s explore some of them;
- IDB-KAUST Joint Ph.D. Scholarship Program – This scholarship is offered jointly by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) for students from an IDB member country pursuing a Ph.D. at KAUST.
- Government of Saudi Arabia Scholarships – International students enrolled at Saudi Arabian universities can apply for any of the government-offered scholarships to cater to their studies.
- Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University Scholarships – The university offers various scholarships like academic scholarships for noun-Saudi female students and other international students interested in learning Arabic languages or spreading Islam.
Tuition-Free Universities in Saudi Arabia for International Students
Here are five of the best universities in Saudi Arabia offering tuition-free education and other educational support initiatives for international students.
1. King Abdulaziz University
King Abdulaziz University (KAU), also known as جامعة الملك عبد العزيز in Arabic, is a prominent public research university located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Established in 1967, it is one of the oldest and largest universities in Saudi Arabia.
The university offers tuition-free education to Saudi students thanks to the various institutional and government initiatives to reduce the cost of pursuing higher education. International students, however, can apply for the available scholarships and take advantage of other institutional support initiatives.
2. King Saud University
King Saud University (KSU) is a renowned public university located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is recognized for its research activities and contributions to various academic disciplines. The university hosts numerous research centers and institutes including top-class museums and exhibits, focusing on advancements in science, technology, and innovation.
The university offers stipends to Saudi students, including students born to Saudi mothers and international scholarship students. These stipends cover tuition for undergraduate and graduate studies for the program period excluding deferral semesters.
3. Umm Al-Qura University
Umm Al-Qura University (جامعة أم القرى) is a prestigious public university located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It was established in 1949 and is known for its academic excellence and commitment to providing high-quality education.
While the university started as an institution focusing on Arabic Language Studies and Islamic Law, It has grown over the years to include other programs like Engineering, Social Sciences, and Medicine.
4. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Another great university to pursue tuition-free education in Saudi Arabia is the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Students pursuing graduate studies receive tuition-free education including a monthly stipend, accommodation, medical and dental coverage, and support when relocating.
Additionally, students from IDB member countries can apply for the IDB-KAUST Joint Ph.D. Scholarship Program which fully covers a standard 4-year Ph.D. program.
5. King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) is a prestigious institution located in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Established in 1963, it is known for its focus on engineering, applied sciences, and business education.
In addition to the excellent research facilities at the institution, the university is among the few institutions to have a fully-fledged medical center offering quality primary health care to the university’s community.
Saudi Arabia offers a great study abroad destination for international students for a mix of quality and affordable education. Thanks to tuition-free education opportunities and other financial aid initiatives, international students can now fulfill their academic journey in any of the above Saudi Arabian universities.
We hope this will encourage you to study in Saudi Arabia. Read our Ultimate Guide to Studying in Saudi Arabia for a more comprehensive guide and tips! Also, check out the Available Programs for International Students for more study options!