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550 Scholarships for Online Master’s Degrees at Arizona State University

by Eddie Rayner

The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE) has awarded 255 scholarships to underserved Arab youth at Arizona State University (ASU) to pursue their online master’s degrees as it closes the final application cycles of its Al Ghurair Open Learning Scholars Programme (OLSP). This will bring the total number of scholars enrolled as part of the OLSP to 550 since its launch in 2017.

The awardees represent 17 nationalities across the Arab region, with women making up over half of the group and 40% being first-generation university students – the first in their families to pursue higher education.

The scholarships cover various programmes, including engineering, technology, health, education, and sustainability, among others. AGFE specifically selected these programmes for being in fields that are in high demand within the region to bridge the knowledge and skill gaps that exist in the workforce today and allow for talent to grow and stay locally.

To ensure the highest quality of programmes offered through the OLSP, AGFE has partnered with ASU, ranked the most innovative university in the United States by US News & World Report for the past five years due to its leadership in online learning. Though the pandemic has caused the popularity of online learning to surge, AGFE has been a leader in advocating for the development of high-quality online education since the programme’s inception in 2017.

255 students have been selected from a group of 1,200 applicants, representing 17 nationalities

Dr Sonia Ben Jaafar, Chief Executive Officer of AGFE, said: “The success of our OLSP in partnership with ASU continues to elevate the state of Arab youth in the region. We are really pleased to be welcoming another round of scholars and continue to lay down pathways that inspire young Arabs to pursue high quality online learning in the future. Having been advocates and supporters of high-quality online learning since 2017, we are fortunate to be in this position, ready to provide these opportunities to the underserved youth in these challenging times. Since the start of the global pandemic, we have seen a huge surge in demand for the online scholarship programme, and we are grateful to be able to help.”

Dr Sonia Ben Jaafar, Chief Executive Officer of AGFE

Having provided scholarships for online programmes with ASU for the past four years, the Foundation has seen a sharp increase in demand since the onset of the pandemic, with the average number of applications received per round increasing by nearly 60%. The AGFE has offered scholarships and is continuing to grow and cater to the needs of the youth. The Foundation is also helping regional universities improve their capacity towards scaling their online programmes to meet the growing demands in the region and assure the advancement of online Arab higher education.  

Mona Youssef, who is Palestinian and living in the UAE, is one of the students selected for the scholarship to complete her master’s degree in Biomedical Diagnostics. Mona hopes to use this degree to focus on research in the UAE and the wider region to better support the Arab community. Speaking about her experience with online learning during the pandemic, Mona said: “I was able to discover new qualities about myself such as self-control and resilience, which enabled me to realise my goals, work for a better future and succeed as an online learner.”

The Foundation has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of applicants since the pandemic began

AGFE recognises that for an underserved student to complete their programme and get a job in the region, they need much more than financial support. The students need to succeed academically and professionally, requiring guidance and counselling beyond just coursework. AGFE and ASU offer scholars various skill-building professional opportunities to better equip them for the working world, providing them with a supportive community and tailored support throughout their educational journey, including a personal enrollment coach and a success coach.

Established in 2015, the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education supports the provision of high-quality education opportunities and the development of relevant higher education and professional skills for Emirati and Arab youth. The Foundation is dedicated to transforming lives through education as it believes that education is the primary driver of development. These efforts directly address the disparity in access to university education in the Arab world to help meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.