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LONDON: A new report has highlighted the major contributions that students, researchers and other academics from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states make to the UK’s vibrant academic sphere.

Arab Gulf students “contribute to the UK’s status as a research nation,” said the report, produced by the Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) and released on Tuesday.

“Arab Gulf students alone account for 21,905 students” in the UK, making GCC states by far the biggest contributors to British academic life from the Middle East, the report added.

Caabu Director Chris Doyle told Arab News: “GCC students have been an invaluable part of the academic mix in Britain for a number of years.” 

He added: “Universities in the UK have hugely benefited from such students, who likewise have received a quality education.”

They have also been making their mark in the world-class research conducted by British universities.

The UK ranks third globally in terms of annual research publications — behind only the US and China — and a significant number of these are co-authored by GCC academics.

Saudi academics lead among the GCC countries by volume of publications, having authored or co-authored over 5,500 articles between 2015 and 2018.

Combined, GCC countries contributed to over 10,000 research publications over the same period.

The report attributed a large part of the success of Saudi academics in particular to the huge support that their country provides for its best and brightest through scholarships to study in the UK.

The report highlights the King Salman Scholarship Program as having had a major impact on building on the Saudi contingent to the UK, saying this “may partly explain why 31,170 people in England and Wales identified as being born in Saudi Arabia.” 

Caabu recommends building on the foundations that initiatives such as the King Salman Scholarship Program have created for Saudi and Gulf academics in the UK, by creating dedicated spaces — digital and physical — for those academics and policymakers to collaborate and network.

“It is important not to dismiss Arab Gulf students as temporary stayers and overlook the academic, economic, cultural and social possibilities this group can add to the wider British and British-Arab public,” the report said.

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