Several Arab countries have just announced their high school-exit exam results, and students across the region are looking forward to their university future, many with high hopes of landing a scholarship.
How to find and apply for an appropriate scholarship, however, may at first seem bewildering. When you type “scholarship” into a search engine, you will get thousands of results from various types of academic institutions offering scholarships in different programmes.
To help you navigate this array of choices Al-Fanar Media asked two experienced university professors for their advice.
First, Choose Your Major
Maha Abdulmajeed, a professor of media at Ajman University, in the United Arab Emirates, notes that universities usually give scholarships to those who have excelled in high school for the first academic year only, but students can have their scholarships renewed if they excel at university as well.
Each university has a scholarship department you can contact for information about the assistance it offers.
However, “what is more important than a scholarship is for the student to choose a specific academic programme,” Abdulmajeed told Al-Fanar Media. Students often aim for something that sounds prestigious without having a clear view of their own future academic preferences and interests, she said.
Abdulmajeed advises students to study the speciality they feel passionate about, and not to just think about future job opportunities.
“If a student studies what he likes, he will have the energy to bear the difficulties and challenges and will be able to excel and justify his choice,” she said. “If he studies a major he does not really like, then every difficulty he faces in his learning journey will seem more difficult than it actually is.”
“If a student studies what he likes, he will have the energy to bear the difficulties and challenges and will be able to excel. … If he studies a major he does not really like, then every difficulty he faces in his learning journey will seem more difficult than it actually is.”Maha Abdulmajeed, a professor of mass communication at Ajman University
If a student is confused about which major to choose, she continued, “it is useful to listen to other students’ opinions and experiences in studying different majors. Still, they should always bear in mind that personal experience differs from one individual to another.”
Choose Your University
When choosing a university, Abdulmajeed said, students should make sure their chosen institution or programme is accredited. She explained that the whole university might be accredited, or just specific programmes.
Preferably, students should choose institutions that have both local and international accreditation. For Egyptian universities, she advises students to check the Supreme Council of Universities. Other countries have similar official agencies that oversee education quality and list accredited institutions.
Abdulmajeed also advises students considering a particular programme to find others who have already graduated from that a programme. The more they are able to contact colleagues and graduates of a programme, the more they will learn about the reality of studying in that programme, the practical training it offers, and whether it complies with regulations and rules regarding education and students’ rights and responsibilities.
Academic Reputation and Rankings
Abdulmajeed further advises students to familiarise themselves with their chosen university’s standing in international rankings, which reflects its academic reputation among educators and potential employers, among other criteria the ranking organisation uses.
The most well-known international university rankings are the QS World University Rankings, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), produced by ShanghaiRanking Consultancy and sometimes called the Shanghai Ranking.
Search for a Scholarship
Many Arab and international universities, as well as education-oriented foundations and other charities, offer scholarships to outstanding students.
Abdulmajeed says students need to identify their own qualities and interests before starting their search for scholarships. After choosing their academic programme, they can find the universities offering this programme and look at what scholarships are available in that specialisation.
For example, she explained that some universities are research institutions that give priority to scientific research. These would not be a good match for students interested in an applied, professional, or other specialised major.
She stressed that university life goes beyond studying and involves participation in a wider community. “I hope that students will be able to achieve a balance between studying and enjoying university life,” she said.
Noting the many reports that predict future changes in the labour market, she observed: “Reading them is quite useful, but in the end, choose a subject that you are sure about and remember that you are responsible for your own choices.”
Al-Fanar Media also recommends its own database of Scholarships for Arab Students as a good resource for finding a scholarship. Our online database has details about the latest scholarships around the world that are available to Arab students. Our team filters out low-quality scholarships and only posts opportunities from reputable educational institutions and scholarship donor organisations.
Don’t Forget to Mention Extracurricular Activities
What happens when two equally qualified students apply for the same scholarship, and the university can admit only one? The deciding factor could come down to participation in extracurricular activities, says Mohamed Ismail, leader of the engineering physics group at Egypt University of Informatics.
“Scholarships require that applicants get a specific score, but if a student’s academic record shows engagement in student activities, this enhances their competitiveness against other students who wish to get the same scholarship,” Ismail told Al-Fanar Media.
Therefore, Ismail stressed, students seeking a scholarship should not forget to list their extracurricular activities on their résumé. These include things like having organised conferences, school events or competitions.
“If I met two students and both got the same grades in the high school-exit exams, say 95 percent, with one of them contributing significantly to student activities, and I could only choose one student, then I would choose the student whose résumé showed his interest in activities.”Mohamed Ismail, leader of the engineering physics group at Egypt University of Informatics
“If I met two students and both got the same grades in the high school-exit exams, say 95 percent, with one of them contributing significantly to student activities, and I could only choose one student, then I would choose the student whose résumé showed his interest in activities.”
Ismail added that universities offer many different types of scholarships. Some cover tuition fees only, some cover accommodations and living expenses, and others give students the chance to travel and study abroad.
Scholarships for Egypt’s High School Graduates
Egypt University of Informatics is among several institutions that have just announced their scholarship offerings for high school graduates. Scholarships covering tuition fees, accommodation, and transportation are awarded across the university’s four faculties: business informatics, computing and information sciences, digital arts and design, and engineering.
The university, established in 2021, is a specialized institution focusing on information and communications technology (ICT). It offers 16 academic programmes in emerging sciences and technologies, with the aim of helping Egypt build its own technology industry.
The British University in Egypt has also announced full and partial scholarships for Egyptian high school graduates and others with equivalent Arab and international certificates who wish to enrol for the coming academic year.
In a statement, the university said it had allocated a number of full scholarships for students who came in at the top of high school-exit exam results, and a 5-percent discount on tuition fees for international students. Students from partner institutions can get a 10-percent discount for all colleges except the Faculties of Dentistry and Pharmacy.
Siblings of students enrolled in the university and children of faculty members in public universities can also get a 10-percent discount, and students can get a 50-percent discount if their father dies after they have applied. The university also gives sports scholarships.
Those wishing to apply or learn about admissions criteria at the British University in Egypt should visit its website, or visit its headquarters in El Shorouk City, a satellite of Greater Cairo.
Egypt’s Sawiris Foundation for Social Development has also announced how it will award scholarships to high school graduates this year.
According to a statement issued on August 2, the foundation will offer two types of “Sawiris Distinction” scholarships, including 50 scholarships for general high school graduates and 10 for students with disabilities.
The scholarships support undergraduate study at top private, international, and public universities in Egypt. The scholarships cover tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses, educational materials, and a laptop computer.
The deadline to apply for the Sawaris Foundation’s scholarships is August 10. To find out more about the general scholarships for high school graduates, click here. To learn more about the scholarships for students with disabilities, click here.
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