King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Graduate Research Assistant Reviews

Updated 26 Jan 2020

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4.2
99%
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  1. "It really depends on which group you are in."

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Graduate Research Assistant 
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    I enjoy the freedom to conduct experiments with less financial limitations.

    Cons

    Challenges related to differences in culture/lack of leadership.

  2. "An amazing organization to work with"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Graduate Research Fellow in Thuwal
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Very professional organization, relaxed work environment, free ample time to work on one's own ideas

    Cons

    Little less freedom of expression, lesser opportunities nearby


  3. "PhD student"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - PhD Graduate Student 
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Amazing high tech labs, very high salaries

    Cons

    Secluded campus, poor student diversity, average academic publications

  4. "Meh"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - PhD Graduate Student in Thuwal
    Recommends

    I have been working at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Lots of money. Good stipend. Nice accommodations. Great environment for experimentalists.

    Cons

    No mathematical theory research, no physics department, no astronomy department.

  5. "My Experience as an Intern"

    5.0
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - Graduate Research Assistant in Thuwal

    I worked at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology for less than a year

    Pros

    Everything was taken care from securing a student-VISA , to airplane ticket and accommodation. There is a cafeteria in center of the University that serves all types of Cuisines.

    Cons

    It may be lonely since everyone is busy with his research. Nothing touristic to visit, which makes a trip to the mall a great experience.

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  6. Helpful (14)

    "Broken Promises and Lack of Strategic Direction"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Graduate Student (MS Program) 
    Doesn't Recommend

    I have been working at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

    Pros

    Has to be one of the most architecturally stunning campuses in the world, and having classmates from 60+ nations provides an incredible opportunity for personal growth. Also, the professors are generally quite solid, but this does depend on your department.

    Cons

    The Saudi cultural power-distance issues are very present and hamper the long term prospects for the success of the University. As students, us and our families were promised many things in order to get us comfortable with the idea of coming to Saudi, but then many of these promises vaporized as soon as we arrived on campus. We were told we'd get round trip tickets home during the school year for winter break, that our textbook costs would be covered, and that our stipend would be $30,000 in one way or another (either straight $30k, or $20k with opportunity for $10k bonus). We have these commitments in writing, from the recruiting material used to get us here. They have not delivered on any of these things, and in the words of management, 'The policies changed. We are sorry if the communication pipeline broke down.' We get $20k stipend and free housing, but the rest of the promises are gone. Because we complained so loudly and collected 170 signatures, they relented to give us a chance for a $6,000 bonus (what happened to $10k???), but they promised it would go out weeks ago and nothing has happened yet. This seems to be typical for Saudi. Something like 10-15 students have had enough and will likely not return after winter break. A few have already left in mid-semester. A list of issues............................ The Discovery Scholarship, which was an undergraduate award for those willing to commit to KAUST, is gone. Senior management either (a) has unbelievable shortsightedness or (b) no longer desires to recruit from the West. The propects of getting anyone here from the US or Western Europe without this award (on the order of $50-100,000) are very slim. The labs are having lots of problems. In one instance, high pressure flowlines were installed as plastic piping. Brilliant... the story is that there was a night little blowout as soon as the flow was initialized. A small quibble, but printing is ridiculous. You must load your file onto a flash drive, take it downstairs, hand it to an employee, wait for them to load it, tell them how they should print it, wait for them to print it, then fill out a form acknowledging receipt of your printout. And there's only one guy working most of the time - heaven forbid someone is in front of you in line. The student apartments have mold and rat issues. The help desk system is terrible and most students end up fixing their problems on their own (bleach for the mold works OK). My roommate and I called about 4-5 problems we have 6 weeks ago and have not had any of them solved yet. In summary, if you want an adventure and multicultural experience and can tolerate a huge power distance and lack of communication, this is the place for you. Lots of students view it as a nice "gap year" to get paid and hang out with people from all over before they apply for PhDs or jobs in the West. Just be aware that the way the place is being run does not bode well for where things will be academically 10-15 years from now, so long term reputation will be an issue. If you are looking for academics alone, however, and must choose between KAUST and a top Western school, it should be a no-brainer decision...

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