The Saudi students aren’t returning. At least, that’s what the Faculty of Medical Sciences is assuming now that they’ve been absent for three years. The faculty will now focus on Dubai (United Arab Emirates).
The UG has had a deal in place to train future doctors in Groningen with the King Faisal University (in the eastern city of Al-Hofuf) since 2010. This deal came to an abrupt end in 2020 due to the pandemic. Saudi Arabia then announced that it wanted to ‘reconsider’ the agreement.
After that, nothing happened. A new deal was not green-lit, not even when the virus was controlled. However, the agreement was never officially cancelled, either.
Contacting the other party is ‘complicated’, says managing director of research and education Bert Schoenmaker. ‘There are various ministers and consuls and some of them have been replaced since the deal started. We’re now trying to figure out who we’re dealing with.’
The faculty will miss out on 32,000 euros a student now that the medical students aren’t returning. Every year, the university welcomed fifteen to twenty students.
The deal resulted in 480,000 to 640,000 euros a year for the university for each batch. The entire programme (bachelor and master) takes seven years. That means the budget will be missing 3 million euros by 2026.
But the faculty has also been informed that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been looking for a location to train their physicians. ‘We’re working out whether that’s something we’re interested in’, says Schoenmaker. ‘And whether we’re allowed to do it’, he emphasises. ‘We can’t just tell them to get over here.’
The ministry of education has to approve. ‘It requires quite a bit of preparation and deliberation. But we do want to seriously look into it.’