The number of Saudis studying in universities across New Zealand increased to 4,000 in 2014, up 22 percent from the previous year, according to an embassy official. “The reason for the increase is the fact that universities in New Zealand are ranked among the top 500 globally in the QS World University Rankings, and in the top 3 percent of all universities,” said John Laxon, a counsellor and education adviser, on Tuesday. The most commonly-attended institutions include the universities of Canterbury, Auckland, Waikato, Massey, Otago, Lincoln and the University of Wellington.
Saudis studying under the King Abdullah Scholarship Program are also taking a variety of courses that include engineering, business administration, information technology and air-traffic control. “English language courses are also very popular as Saudi students do not need a visa when visiting New Zealand for three weeks,” Laxon said, adding that it also has a high rate of qualification for Technical and Vocational Education. Laxon noted that New Zealand is also a trusted partner for delivering education solutions in the Kingdom, with research and teaching partnerships with leading universities including Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University. He added that New Zealand institutes are also being selected for prestigious Colleges of Excellence contracts to manage technical institutes in the Kingdom.
“We are committed to supporting Saudi students before and during their visit to New Zealand. We offer comprehensive pre-departure workshops and support systems throughout their time here,” he said. He added that Saudi students are enjoying their studies in New Zealand, having formed vibrant Saudi students’ clubs. Also, all of the universities offer halal food options and prayer facilities. “The education relationship between our countries is very strong. We are grateful for the support we have from the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education in the Saudi capital and the cultural attache and cultural mission in New Zealand,” said Laxon who graduated with First Class Honors in political studies. He also holds a graduate diploma in applied finance from the University of Otago.
© Arab News 2015