Kuwait - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-01-15

Capital:  Kuwait City
Population:  3,000,000 (July 2020 estimate)
GDP:  USD $289.7 billion (2017 estimate, Purchasing Power Parity)
Currency:  Kuwaiti dinars (KD)
Language:  Arabic (official), English widely spoken

UNESCO Student Mobility Number:
Kuwait has 24,694 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

CIA World Factbook:
39.25% of the population in Kuwait is under 24 years of age.

OVERVIEW

Kuwait spends heavily on improvements to its education system.  The government has spent US $1.14 billion on facilities, including US $882 million to rebuild old schools as well as create new facilities.  The budget allocated for fiscal year 2019/2020 is around US $7 billion.

Scholarships and Study Abroad:  The U.S. remains the number one favored destination for Kuwaiti students seeking to study abroad.  Kuwaiti students who have a high school diploma or equivalent are eligible to apply for the Ministry of Higher Education’s Scholarship Program for undergraduate studies.  There is no limit to the number of scholarships awarded each year.  In June 2019, the Kuwaiti government awarded 9,211 scholarships for study inside Kuwait at local private universities and the sole public university, Kuwait University, and 1,977 scholarships for study outside Kuwait.  Of these 1,977 scholarships for study abroad, 35% were for study in the United States.  Most of these students require one year of English language study because the teaching in Kuwaiti public schools is in Arabic.

In 2018, the Ministry of Higher Education adopted a new regulation stating that Kuwaiti students seeking to obtain a scholarship to study in the United States must obtain a score of 5 in the IELTS exam ( an equivalent of TOEFL) to be accepted into the scholarship program.  This may impact the number of new students awarded Government of Kuwait scholarships.  This is one of the reasons why the number of scholarships has been decreasing over the past two years.  In 2017-18, 51% of the scholarships were awarded to study in the U.S; for 2018-19, the number was at 41%.  The Ministry of Higher Education hopes to increase the number of scholarships available to its students to address the volume of high school graduates seeking higher education abroad.

As of 2019, approximately 13,000 Kuwaiti students were studying in the United States.  The Ministry of Higher Education is looking to delay the launch of its external scholarship plan for the upcoming year due to a number of factors, including the uncertain global coronavirus situation, the second wave that has hit some countries, the Health Ministry’s recent recommendation to postpone travel plans, and the Education Ministry’s unclear position on resuming public sector education. 

Schools and Universities in Kuwait:  In total, there are approximately 1,300 public and private elementary and secondary schools in Kuwait.  The Ministry of Education (MOE) has begun to revamp its entire curriculum, starting at the primary school level. The project is to be phased in over a period of five years and will cover all subjects, from social sciences to mathematics and science.  Industry experts expect the demand for training programs in a variety of fields to increase due to Kuwait’s multi-billion dollar national development plan.  Of the 30 international schools, eight are American and the rest follow Canadian, British, French, or Indian curricula, with English-language programs.

There are eleven universities in Kuwait.  Kuwait University, the only public university, graduates 4,000 students each year.  Students earn degrees from a variety of programs.  On May 4, 2004, the government issued a decree establishing a new Kuwait University City in the Shedadiya area, with a campus that includes various colleges, scientific centers, and other facilities, allowing an increase in the university’s student body.  The University opened some faculties to students in September 2019.  All other universities in Kuwait are private: the American University of Kuwait, American University of the Middle East, The Arab Open University, Australian College of Kuwait, Kuwait International Law School, Kuwait Maastricht Business School, Algonquin College, Kuwait Technical College, Box Hill College, American International College, and Gulf University of Science and Technology.

Training:  There is also high demand for vocational and non-degree training.  The Ministry of Defense contracts with a foreign language institute to offer English language instruction to its personnel.  The Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) delivers various training programs for the private and government sectors.  The Public Authority for Applied Education and Training provides programs for graduates seeking employment at government ministries, departments, and agencies.

According to industry sources, the government has created a $5.6 billion education market that is strong, steady, and offers many opportunities for U.S. universities and related suppliers of products and services.  The United States leads the pack with 20% market share, followed by Japan, the United Kingdom, and several Asian countries.  U.S. products are highly respected by the MOE, but companies seeking business in Kuwait have to be competitive, flexible, and well-connected to compete for government projects.

SUB-SECTORS

Best Prospect Services

  • ESL and TOEFL
  • Certified Programs: executive training, management training, IT training, security training, and ongoing professional development
  • Undergraduate degrees in pharmacy, engineering, and dentistry and graduate business degrees
  • Exam review courses for U.S. medical board exams

OPPORTUNITIES

There is a move afoot to emphasize certain disciplines, including dentistry, nursing, and pharmacy, due to urgent demand for workers in these sectors, as well as science, technology, and engineering.  U.S. universities targeting Kuwaiti students should approach the Cultural Office of the Embassy of the State of Kuwait in Washington, DC, and request inclusion on its list of pre-approved universities.  Universities must meet the specific criteria of the Kuwaiti Embassy’s Cultural Office in order to be included on this list.  To confirm if your university is already on the list, visit the SIS Kuwait Culture D.C. website.  In 2019, the Ministry of Higher Education added some majors to their approved list: cybersecurity and meteorology.

EVENTS

The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait places significant emphasis on the promotion of U.S. education and training institutions.  The Embassy regularly promotes various education fairs, including the American Education Expo, EduEx Expo, International Student Network (ISN) Expo, and Linden Tours.   The Embassy also provides advice and counseling to students on applying to accredited U.S. education institutions.

Another effective way to promote your university to Kuwaiti high schools is via the U.S. Commercial Service’s Gold Key Service.  Under the Gold Key Service, the U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Embassy Kuwait will arrange 1-2 days of appointments with high school counselors and principals.  Universities that have utilized this service in the past have found it to be very effective in establishing business relationships with local international and bilingual schools.

RESOURCES

U.S. COMMERCIAL SERVICE CONTACT

Rasha Al-Muhtaseb, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service – Kuwait City, Kuwait
Email: 
Rasha.Al-Muhtaseb@trade.gov

Phone:  +965 2259 1449