In April 2005, President George W. Bush invited Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Aziz Al Saud to his Crawford, Texas, ranch where, among other things, they chewed on the idea of beefing up the number of Saudi students studying in the U.S., which had declined significantly after the Sept. 11 attacks. Wanting to do his part, Abdullah, since crowned king, pledged to provide full-tuition scholarships for Saudi students admitted to universities in the U.S.—including at Xavier.
Since then, 24 Saudi students have enrolled at Xavier, including 17 this year—a major increase, says Lea Minniti, director for International Student Services.
“They respect the U.S. education system,” she says. “Providing full pay for these students is great for us, and the students are bright.”
Students must complete one year of intensive English language instruction before entering as undergraduates. Some stay for graduate degrees. Abdulrahman Sadawi completed the English program in one year and decided to stay. Now a freshman, Sadawi is looking forward to a degree in medical technology and a job at a new hospital in his home city of Jeddah on the Red Sea. “I consider myself lucky,” Sadawi says. “It means a lot because with an education from the U.S., I will have priority when I apply for a job.”