How Expats Can Take Admission in MBBS in Saudi Arabia

In the past decades Medical education has been one of the main reasons expat families in KSA are forced to relocate their children after their school education to their home countries particularly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. However this trend is geared towards change as world class medical colleges in KSA’s top cities open their doors to foreign students.

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Top Medical Colleges for expat students in KSA
Eventually, in response to the need for medical schools that cater to a larger section of the population, several private medical colleges have been established in KSA which are open to foreign students wishing to study MBBS.
Among these the most popular are:
1. Al Faisal University, Riyadh
2. Global Medical College, Riyadh
3. Al Maarefa Colleges, Riyadh
4. Batterjee Medical college, Jeddah
5. Ibn Sina College for Medical Studies, Jeddah

Eligibility Criteria 

IMG-20160301-WA0013Normally most Medical Colleges offer admission for foreign students who have completed at least 12 years of their schooling in the science stream either in a recognised institution in KSA or an equivalent qualification from anywhere in the world. Usually most universities recognise 10+2 certificates, GCSE A levels as well as SAT qualifications and as per Ministry of Education requirements a 12 class (or equivalent) school report card must be presented.

Additionally  the following cqtagories of applicants are also entertained:
• Bridging students (Diploma students)
• University/College transfer students (Undergraduate students)

Generally male and female students who have their parents working in KSA and hold valid iqamas are eligible for admission in MBBS courses. However students who come to visit their parents or who don’t yet live in KSA may also be considered for admission.

Naturally, studying MBBS in KSA also requires the expat student to obtain Student Visa and hence might have to forego the sponsorship of their parents during the period of study especially if their iqama can not be renewed any further.

Admission Requirements and Process

All MBBS applicants are required to visit the website of the college they intend to apply to and fill in the online registration  form. Once they create an online application, they are required to upload all supporting documents online such as:

  • Scanned iqama/ Passport
  • Scanned Official School/ College Transcripts
  • Scanned English test results like IELTS/ TOEFL
  • Passport  sized photograph
  • Permission from government  to study in KSA for outside applicants.

Additionally the dependents of medical college employees might also need to present Birth certificate  while siblings of current students might also need to show proof of relationship.

Once all required documents are uploaded with completed application form and submitted, the student will be notified through email about the status of their application. Based on the Academic calendar of the respective university successful  candidates are informed about the dates for registration at the university. Additionally  some colleges like BMC  require the candidate to sit for an interview.

However if a student fails to meet the requirements for direct admission to MBBS, they can enroll in the foundation course offered by the university to make them eligible  for MBBS. These foundation courses are usually one year in duration.

Once the admission is confirmed  and innitial tution fee is paid, the student then has to process their health insurance as well as student visa for which their university will seek permission from concerned Ministry.

Fees and other expenses

The private medical colleges in KSA are not based on donation system that is popular among many Asian countries. Intead they charge tution fees per semester or per annum. This fees ranges from 70,000 SAR p.a. to 85,000 SAR p.a. at Ibn Sina and Marefa Medical college respectively, while Batterjee Medical college  charges 45,000 SAR per sem and Al Faisal charges 47,000 SAR per sem.

In addition to the tution fees students have to make a one time payment at the time of admission which varies ftom college to college as well as an annual Health insurance in addition to managing their own accomodation and food expenses.

Scholarships 

Though the fees of these colleges seems exuberant  and is at par with India’s Top Private Medical Colleges, there are several means through which expat families find it possible to send their children to these institutions:

  • Installment plans
  • Excellent grades based discounts
  • Sibling discounts
  • Employee children discounts
  • Need based scholarships

Value of doing MBBS in KSA
The MBBS degree in KSA which is generally 6 years long followed by one year internship and recognised internationally, offers a wide range of advantages over medical education in the Subcontinent.
Not only is the atmosphere peaceful and amicable for studies, children brought up in KSA find it easier to adjust. Top that up with hygenic food and living spaces, international faculty,
World class infrastructure and labs, disease resistant cadavers and availability  of scholarships.

IMG-20160301-WA0006Interestingly, these medical colleges have opted for a shift towards a modern Medical curriculum that is student centric and based on intergrated hybrid curriculum particularly PBL (problem  based learning) which makes it possible for the Medical ctudents to have a strong foundation in the practice and ethics of                                                medicine, not just theory.

IMG-20160301-WA0007Furthermore,  research based writing and exposure to research environments in the early years of MBBS is at the core of these medical programs particularly  Al Faisal University  which follows the style  of Harvard Medical School and offers several incentives  to students who take up research such as funding them to undergo summer training programmes at top research centers in USA and UK. Similarly Batterjee Medical college, Jeddah incorporates features of German Medical Schools based on European education system.

Another attractive feature of these universities  is that they are geered towards preparing students for prestigious  medical licencing  exams like USMLE such as at Global medical college where USMLE PREP is part of the curriculum and clinical rotation is possible in the UK and US.

Testimonials by current MBBS students in KSA

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Medical Students at Al Faisal University

Qsaudi contacted some expat students doing MBBS at Al Faisal University  in Riyadh to ask them about their experience as medical students.

Omar, a second year Medical student from Kashmir describes his experience as thus: “The decision to study MBBS at Al Faisal was perhaps the best decision my parents took for me. Being medical doctors themselves, they were very keen for me to study at a world class institutions. Having spend several months trying to get admission at top medical colleges in India, we were discouraged by the chaotic atmosphere, lack of hygiene  and rampant corruption we witnessed. Finally we saw a ray of hope when we came to know that some medical colleges in KSA accept expats and thus my journey to Al Faisal University. My experience  here has been nothing short of life changing. To think that I would be actively involved in medical research  so early in my degree and that would be taught professional ethics and skills from day one is a dream come true. However world class education does come at a price and my family has managed to meet the expenses through the merit based scholarship that I have received”.

Another student from Hyderabad who has an elder sibling at the university and thus receives a discount in addition  to a 50% merit based scholarship says it is amazing to be studying  in a world class institution for half as much as he would be paying in popular MBBS destinations  like Bangladesh.

Further, the students expressed gratitude over the fact they are studying at a non-profit institution since that means that whatever they give to the university they receive back in many ways in the form of incentives for writing  articles in journals, getting paid  for their skills like photography, event management and better preparation  for licensing exams.

According to them it is no coincidence that 8 out of 9 students from the university  who recently applied for US Residency got accepted. They attribute such success to the innovative and practice oriented teaching methods that firmly ground students in the practice of Medicine and the presence of an experienced  faculty from all parts of the world.

Important guidelines for MBBS in KSA
When seeking admission for MBBS in KSA one must make sure the college is recognised by Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) and the National Commission for Accreditation and Academic Assessment (NCAAA). Those looking to work outside KSA might also find it worthwhile to check international accreditations/ recognition of a college for instance by looking at the FAIMER International Medical Education Directory (IMED). Additionally, it is necessary  to contact the university  directly  instead of being mislead by agents.