By Claire Valdini
Gulf state will relocate pupils currently studying in Sudanese universities amid rising political tension
Saudi Arabia will no longer allow its students to study at universities in Sudan due to increasing political tensions, an embassy official has said.
The Gulf state, which provides full funding for some 125,000 students abroad annually, said it will relocate pupils currently studying in Sudan, the country’s cultural attaché in Khartoum told Al Hayat newspaper.
Expenses will be covered by the government, said Manee Al Mutairi.
Sudan has largely avoided the mass Arab Spring protests that unseated rulers in Egypt and Tunisia but President Omar Hassan Al Bashir has faced increased dissent amid a severe economic crisis and corruption.
Sudanese police fired teargas on university students in December after four days of protests which followed the death of four students from Darfur.
Prior to the change in regulations, Saudi Arabia allowed students to study for bachelor’s degrees at four Sudanese universities with only one recommended for post-graduate studies.
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz launched the Gulf state’s international scholarship programme when he took the throne as part of a key effort to boost the country’s reliance on foreign employees and transform the country into a modern state.
The Saudi government invests around SR9bn ($2.4bn) in the programme each year. The initiative is currently open for students in medicine, medical science and health sciences with more options for graduate studies.