Admitting Academically Gifted and Able Students
KAU planned to create its own human resource pool from the early stages of its development. All admitted graduates and undergraduates are selected from academically elite student applicants. One admission condition is that successful applicants have high scores in the examinations of the National Center for Assessment in Higher Education. These Saudi National Matriculation Tests are required by most Saudi universities for the admission of new students. However, the universities' admission requirements differ in terms of score levels required.
KAU has adopted the Preparatory Year scheme in which all students study compulsory courses to prepare them for university academic life and their selected major study fields. There are two streams in this year, one for science students and one for arts and humanities students. Students who demonstrate a lack of required levels of academic ability during this year usually leave the university or transfer to Community Colleges that provide short-cycle degrees (Diplomas and Professional Certificates), or to Vocational Technical Education Colleges.
Scholarships Program for Academically High Performing Graduates
In the initial phase of its development, KAU hired primarily foreign academics, which was necessary at that time to assist in the acceleration of its launch by utilizing the expertise of experienced teachers and researchers. The foreign academics at KAU at that time were also instrumental in the training of young national academics. Currently, in excess of 60 % of KAU academics are Saudi nationals.
KAU selects the highest achievers academically from its graduates in all disciplines to offer them scholarships to pursue graduate studies abroad for Master's and Doctoral degrees in top ranked world-class universities to prepare them to return to KAU and become KAU academic staff members. By so doing KAU guarantees future highly qualified academic staff members and acquires in-depth awareness of their academic profiles.
Almost 50 % of the scholarships are to USA top ranked universities, while approximately 25 % are to UK top ranked universities. The remaining scholarships are to Canada, Australia, and Europe. This is shown in Fig. 1.
The number of scholarships has increased annually as shown in Fig. 2. Scholarships are for both male and female graduates (in an approximately 50-50 ratio).
There are some female students who are not able to travel abroad for full time study due to family circumstances. To ensure that these students are enabled to attain their full academic potential, KAU has signed agreements with a number of top ranked British universities to allow them to study at home under a joint supervision program. Each student is assigned a supervisor at the British university and a supervisor at KAU. There are regular supervisor exchanges and meetings including the involved students to solve any issues and problems, while continuous email
Fig. 1 Percentage of scholarships to top ranked universities
Fig. 2 Number of scholarships between 2006 and 2012
Fig. 3 Number of scholarships in the joint supervision program
contact is maintained throughout the year. Figure 3 shows the number of female students in this joint supervision program.