Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Higher Education issues government scholarships to thousands of Saudi students each year to attend domestic and foreign universities. Saudi universities also offer scholarships to foreign students primarily from Pakistan and India. Saudi King Abdullah implemented the King Abdullah Scholarship Program in late 2004 to increase the number of Saudis, especially women, attending Western universities. The government also issues scholarships for Saudi students to attend English language schools to prepare for university studies.
Between 2004 and 2008, an estimated 42,000 Saudi government scholarship students attended universities mostly in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia. In 2009, the number rose to 52,000 students. The students also attend domestic universities on scholarships.
As of 2010, an estimated 15,616 Saudi students---25 percent comprised of women ---were studying for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the United Kingdom. Students receive an average living allowance of about $1,800 per month. Female students, who account for about 60 percent of the overall domestic and foreign university student population, must be accompanied by a mahram if living abroad. A mahram is a male guardian such as a brother, father or uncle. They receive approximately $2,700 monthly in living expenses. Tuition is fully paid. The government places no academic or learning environment conditions on students other than to adhere to the universities' standards.