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Saudi needs over a million new school places by 2020

Private schools growing at only 3% per annum and currently make up 12% of total enrolment

20 April 2017

Riyadh — Saudi Arabia will need over a million new school places by 2020 in grades 1-12, of which 150,000 are expected to come from the private sector, according to a recent report.

The number of private schools in the Kingdom has been growing at 3% per annum, with the strongest growth being seen at the primary level, where enrolment in public schools has declined, according to the PwC Middle East’s Education practice report.

Despite further growth expected in the private sector, market share for private schools is unlikely to grow from around 11% to the aspirational 25% unless significant changes are seen to encourage growth and investment.

Sally Jeffery, PwC Partner, Middle East Education & Skills Practice leader and Global Education Sector leader, said: “By 2020, Saudi Arabia is predicted to need over a million new school places for grades 1-12 and 125,000 seats in post-secondary.”

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The report also indicates that tightening restrictions on international visa and scholarship qualifications may cause a proportion of the estimated 190,000 Saudi students that study abroad each year (12% of all university enrolled students in 2014) to look for university places at home.

Saudi Arabia faces tough policy choices in higher education.

If historical rates of enrolment continue, and the university age population continues to grow, around 125,000 additional seats will be required in post-secondary education by 2020.

© The Saudi Gazette 2017

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