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Jan 18, 2013 05:28 AM EST

US Universities See Increase in Enrolment of Saudi Students

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The enrolment of Saudi students in American universities has seen a big jump in the last few years. It increased from 11, 116 in 2006 to to 71,026 in 2012. 

According to the recent statistics, 95 percent of them opted for English courses followed by business and engineering courses.

Central Washington University is one of the colleges that benefited from the influx of Saudi students. The school granted admissions to 150 Saudi students in 2012 when compared to nothing in 2005.

"With the financial crunch...the [U.S.] administrators look to the international students to a degree as saviors," Michael Launius, vice president of international students at Central Washington University, Wall Street Journal reports.

The Saudi contingent "doesn't seem to have caused any kind of consternation and stir at all," said Launius. "I think this is a good exposure to what these folks are actually like."

Diana Vreeland, director of Center for English Language and Culture for International Students at Western Michigan University, said that around 130 Saudi Arabian students enrolled into its program last semester. On the other hand, the Language Center in University of Dayton has now around 400 Saudi students.

The increase in enrolments in recent years can be attributed to Saudi scholarships that was launched by King Abdullah and Ex-President George W. Bush to strengthen ties between both the countries in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Saudi scholarships offer five-year visa, full tuition, housing and health benefits for students and family members. Plus, it also provides students round-trip tickets home once a year.

"When students are finished, they come back with a collective experience that can help move the country forward," Mody Alkhalaf, the Saudi Arabia mission's assistant attaché for cultural and social affairs, said, USA Today reports.

Officials at the University of Mary said that they value the diversity such students bring to the campus. Arabic studies professor at the university, Maysoon Al-Sayed Ahmad organizes regular coffee sessions for his students.

"I wanted American students to change their idea about what they think about the Arab people, so they can become friends," Ahmad said.

Abdullah Khalid Maghrabi, a 19-year-old student from the university, feels that his opinion about Americans changed since he shifted to the country. Previously, he thought that all of them had guns.

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