Manama: Close to 60,000 students from Saudi Arabia are taking courses in various subjects in the US, official Saudi figures indicate.

The 58,726 students — 43,188 males and 15,538 females — are accompanied by 33,856 family members, Saudi news site Sabq reported on Wednesday, citing the scholarship agency.

The largest segment of students are studying engineering and information technology (22,240) followed by management and finance (15,181) and human and social studies (8,528).

Medicine and medical sciences are fourth with 7,685 students, ahead of biology with 2,154 and physics with 1,065.

The figures show 11 students are taking courses related to helping people with special needs.

The remaining 1,862 are taking other specialities, the agency said.

Only 8,272 are self-sponsored whereas the others are being sponsored by the state that pays for all their education and living expenses.

The agency said 35,736 are studying for a bachelor’s degree, 7,122 for a master’s degree and 4,392 for a PhD.

It added that 1,019 are taking training courses and 1,012 are studying for a fellowship, while 8,628 are honing their linguistic skills.

Saudi Arabia has been investing heavily in scholarship programmes, mainly in the US.

“I feel proud about the academic levels of the Saudi students and the efforts they are exerting,” the Saudi ambassador to the US Prince Khalid Bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz posted on his Twitter account on Monday. “They are motivated and guided by aspirations for a brighter future and achievements. You are the best ambassadors for the country.”

In another post, he said education has always been a cornerstone of Saudi-US relations, with hundreds of thousands of Saudi students having attended American universities over the years.

“Their aspirations for a better future serve as the best representation of the Kingdom.”