Abu Dhabi: Top performing Emirati students in Grade 12, with an average of 85 per cent or more, are now eligible to study in one of the top 25 international private universities for free, officials from the Ministry of Presidential Affairs (MoPA) announced on Monday.

In their keenness to encourage top performing high school students, the MoPA held a meeting for 1,300 top performing male (500) and female (800) students from 40 different public schools across Abu Dhabi.

"We have handpicked Grade 11 students who have scored 80 per cent or higher to motivate them to raise their grades to 85 per cent and above during their final school year. And those are the students who are eligible to receive a national or international scholarship in a private university, depending on their requirements and our recommendation," said Noora Mohammad Al Zaabi, Student Recruitment Coordinator at the MoPA.

Emirati students who score 85 per cent or above, and a Toefl average no less than 500, will have access of an academic consultant, who will advise and fit each student in one of the top 25 universities abroad.

Each of these students will receive a free annual plane-ticket, and a monthly average salary of $5,000 to $6,000 (Dh18,350- Dh22,020), given that their grades do not drop to less than a three grade point average (GPA).

The MoPA has a separate scholarship unit for students who wish to study in private universities in the UAE. Since their initiation in 2003, the MoPA helped fit 427 students in private universities across Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, out of which 248 students have already graduated, and 91.5 per cent are employment.

"Students who wish to enroll in a UAE-based private university sponsored by us, must score not less than 85 per cent in his/her high school, and maintain a semester accumulative grade average of not less than 2.80," explained Asma Ali Al Hammadi, Scholarships Coordinator at the MoPA.

Universities: How to apply

For students who wish to apply for scholarships with one of the top 25 universities abroad, please visit the President's Scholarship Office website on www.sco.org.ae or contact the PSO on 02-641-3999.

Start date to apply for an international scholarship : January 2, 2011

Deadline to apply for an international scholarship : January 13, 2011.