The Facts About Algonquin College’s Saudi Arabian Campus

Algonquin College has been engaged in international activity since 2004 through partner institutions across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. We began working with the government of Saudi Arabia on reforms and improvements to that nation’s technical and vocational college system in 2009 through a campus in Jazan, Saudi Arabia. This important effort proved the strength and value of a Canadian college education abroad, and generated an important financial return for Algonquin College.

In 2013, this partnership expanded when Algonquin College joined international education providers from around the world, including the US, Spain, the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada to submit bids to operate campuses for five- year terms, educating Saudi women and men. After our successful bid, the campus in Jazan was rebranded as Algonquin College.

The Saudi government subsequently opened up additional campuses for bidding, and in the second wave Algonquin College was not successful in our goal of obtaining a women’s college. We are exploring options to open a female campus in the future. We are nonetheless pleased to see vocational education opportunities being opened up to thousands of female Saudi students.

Since the beginning, Algonquin has been open and transparent about the College’s work in Saudi Arabia, announcing each new step, and providing regular updates to our Board and to the Ontario government,which approved this international expansion. We look forward to continuing to build upon the success of our international education work, in support of our mission of transforming hopes and leading to lifelong career success.

Why is Algonquin College operating a campus in Saudi Arabia?

Algonquin College began its international work in 2004, and in that time has engaged countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East in educational partnerships and programs while also hosting international students from 100 countries at our campuses in Ontario. While acknowledging that no country in the world is exactly like Canada, the College aimed to have a positive impact globally by engaging other countries rather than isolating them.

In the second wave Algonquin College was not successful in our goal of obtaining a women’s college. We are exploring options to open a female campus in the future.

Why is Algonquin College operating a male-only campus?

As part of the Colleges of Excellence program, and in keeping with Saudi cultural norms, the government of Saudi Arabia has opened 18 all-female and 19 all-male colleges, including the male campus we operate. As is the religious custom in Saudi Arabia, all schools in that country are gender-segregated.

As mentioned, Algonquin College has not been successful in its goal of obtaining a women’s college yet. We are looking at all the options.

Has Algonquin College lost money in Saudi Arabia?

On the whole, the Algonquin College Saudi Arabia Limited Liability Company (LLC) is expected to return $4.4 million to Algonquin College’s operations over the duration of the five-year Jazan campus contract. Though the campus posted a $1.4 million loss during its second year (in 2014-15), this is in part due to a variety of economic and other complicating factors. To mitigate this, the College has changed its program mix and reconfigured its language program delivery with a strong positive effect for 2015-16.

As international operations are not funded by the Ontario government, no Ontario taxpayer money has been jeopardized by this one-time loss. Revenues from other non-funded operations offset our onetime loss in 2014-15, and those funds will be recovered over the remaining years of the contract.

Learn More

Our International Education Strategic Plan can be viewed at This plan guides where we do business internationally, and why.

In response to interest from our community, and in the interests of transparency, the College is releasing the 2013 Jazan campus proposal document, including its initial offer to operate a female campus in Al-Kharj, Saudi Arabia. Algonquin College’s Jazan campus’ website is Visit the Saudi Colleges of Excellence website,, to  see a full list of campuses and learn about the initiative’s goals.

Scott Anderson is the Executive Director of Public
Relations and Communications at Algonquin College