JEDDAH: Saudi authorities have moved to end confusion among overseas scholarship students eager to resume their fall semesters in their universities.
Scholarship students can resume their studies remotely in all academic levels until the end of 2020, Education Minister Hamad Al-Asheikh said in a directive.
The minister also confirmed that students who returned to the Kingdom to study remotely during the pandemic will continue to receive their allocated allowances (sans their spouses/accompanying guardian).
Students facing financial hardship without reimbursement for their accompanying spouses and guardians can take up their case with the deputy minister or apply to postpone their scholarship for a year due to the pandemic.
Al-Asheikh said student allowances will continue for those who have graduated and completed their scholarship during the spring and summer, but have been unable to return to Saudi Arabia. This will continue from the date of the directive until they return.
The news came as a relief to many students who returned to the Kingdom in recent months to join their families while the world struggled with the coronavirus outbreak.
Yousef Al-Ayesh said the announcement gave him "immense comfort."
The business tourism senior, who returned to his hometown Jeddah from Arizona in June, said: “This directive is a really good decision and it’s going to help students very much. It removed a lot of stress for a lot of the students in the US, but specifically for my college because they’re providing the option of both online or in-person classes.”
Scholarship students were unable to take online classes before, but the pandemic has led to the rules being changed.
Al-Ayesh said that without the directive, he might have been forced to delay his studies for at least one semester.
With his visa expiring in October and no chance of returning to the US before then, he will be renewing his apartment lease and paying rent from Jeddah.
Many students welcomed the news after it broke on social media.
“Everyone I spoke with was worried they were not going to be able to continue studies in the fall or go back to the US. But after this directive, I talked to a couple of my friends and they all expressed their relief. It’s such a good decision,” Al-Ayesh said.
The decision to continue the allowances has also been a big comfort.
“The allowance really helps because I won’t have to worry as much about paying my rent and bills back in the US. This assures me that things can be taken care of back there,” he said.