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ERIC Number: EJ778620
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep-14
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Saudi Arabia Puts Its Billions behind Western-Style Higher Education
Krieger, Zvika
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n3 pA1 Sep 2007
Saudi Arabia has been developing at breakneck speed since the end of World War II, when oil production transformed this country of Bedouins into one of the richest polities in the world. Its higher-education system, however, has not kept pace. The Ministry of Higher Education was not established until 1975, and its task was to educate a population still learning to read and write. As recently as 2003, only eight public universities served a population of 22 million people. Four years ago, the kingdom embarked on a fantastically ambitious effort to expand and reform higher education. The higher-education ministry's budget has nearly tripled since 2004, to $15 billion, much of which has been spent on opening more than 100 new colleges and universities. King Abdullah has provided $10 billion of his own money to establish a graduate-level science-and-technology university, instantly making it the sixth wealthiest university in the world. The government has lifted a decades-old ban on private institutions, offering free land and more than $10 million toward scholarships and building costs for what they hope will become the Harvards and Yales of the Middle East. A seemingly bottomless bank account is not the only ingredient needed for a top-notch education system. The notoriously insular country is still governed by an authoritarian ruler exerting harsh social and religious restrictions--a far cry from the intellectual breeding ground that is New England. The conservative culture will very likely prove a serious roadblock to recruiting top professors and make it difficult to persuade ambitious Saudis to earn their degrees at home rather than abroad, as thousands now do. Saudi Arabia's universities also suffer from outdated teaching methods and a stifling bureaucracy bent on centralized control. In this article, the author discusses these and other obstacles that Saudi Arabia's system of higher education must overcome in order to succeed. (Contains 1 table.)
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Saudi Arabia