Sitting on the protruding Qatari landmass on the northeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar shares its only land border with Saudi Arabia and at the same time borders the waters of the Persian Gulf. Although its smaller in size than many of its neighboring countries, in recent times Qatar has seen a massive increase in wealth due to fuel trade. At the moment, its one of the world’s richest countries, and is investing significant funds in modernizing and internationalizing its tertiary education system to allow students study on cheapest tuition.
Applying to universities in Qatar
In order to find out how to apply to universities in Qatar, do well to visit the website of your chosen institution and read up on the application process and entry requirements for your course. In many cases, both domestic and international students are able to apply online through the relevant department.
It is important to note that at some universities there is a limit on the types of student who are able to apply. For example, at Qatar University only applicants with a valid State of Qatar residence permit or citizenship in a fellow Gulf country are allowed to enroll.
Assuming you don’t yet hold a residence permit but eagerly want to study in Qatar, then do well to visit the international student section of your chosen university’s website, where you will find practical assistance on how to get a residency permit.
Tuition fees at universities in Qatar are set by each individual institution. Often, both Qatari and non-Qatari students pay the same fees. At some schools, such as the Education City branch of Texas A & M, sponsored students pay half the fees of non-sponsored students, with the full price set at 71,172 QR per semester (~US$19,550). There are generally two semesters per academic year (fall and spring).
If you study in Qatar at the Education City complex, and are a cross-registered student, you may be eligible to undertake additional courses offered by other universities in the City free of charge.
Some universities in Qatar charge fees per ‘credit hour’, with around 12 credit hours per semester. At Qatar University for instance, undergraduate arts programs cost 800 QR per credit hour, equaling 9,600 QR per semester (US$2,600), while engineering programs cost 1,000 QR per credit hour, totaling 12,000 QR per semester (US$3,300). If you are a prospective medical student you should expect significantly higher fees, starting at 60,000 QR a year (US$16,500) and climbing to 90,000 QR (US$24,700) in your fourth year and 120,000 QR (US$33,000) in your fifth and sixth years of clinical training.
Aside from the advantage of cheap petrol, living costs in Qatar aren’t the most appealing. Swift economic growth has caused accommodation and leisure costs to rocket, alongside the prices of transport to and from the nation. Due to the widespread import of food – estimated at around 90% of consumption – basic foodstuffs can also be fairly expensive. According to Numbeo statistics, you can expect to pay 21 QR (US$6 for a McDonalds meal, 40 QR (US$11) for a domestic or imported beer, 5.5 QR (US$1.5) for a loaf of bread and between 5,500 QR (US$1,500) and 8,350 QR per month (US$2,300) for a one-bedroom apartment, with the upper end of the price scale reflecting properties in Doha city center.
If you intend to study in Qatar for a short period of time only, tourist visas will be issued on arrival at Doha airport to citizens from a select number of countries, including the UK, US, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Citizens who hail from fellow Gulf countries – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE – do not require a visa to enter Qatar. The price for a tourist 30-day visa is put at 105 QR (US$30), can be paid on entry into Qatar and usually open for renewal before the 30-day period expires.
If you desire to stay longer than one month, or are from a country not on the list of eligible nations, obtaining a visa to study in Qatar may be more difficult. The reason is that Qatari embassies are not authorized to issue visas, implying that a sponsor will be required to complete the process for you. In most cases, your university will act as your sponsor, so do well to apply for your visa through the institution. Assuming you are applying for a student visa through a sponsor, you will be asked to provide a birth certificate, a medical certificate proving good health, proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay and a clear police report.
The popular types of transport you will use while studying in Qatar are bus or – and perhaps a limousine if you’re fancy. The cost for the bus is from 4 QR (US$1). From 2010 conductors stopped accepting cash on board and now all payments have to be made using a Karwa Smart Card, which you can buy and top up before entering a bus.
Taxi services have been around for a while in Qatar, there are equally Uber and Careem which offer an easy-to-use system where drivers can arrive at your location within 15 minutes. For security purposes, all passengers receive a photo of their driver along with his/her name and official number.