The University of California at Berkeley is working on a partnership deal with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the Contra Costa Times reported today.
Under the arrangement, which the Times says could be made final as early as Tuesday, Berkeley faculty members would collaborate on research and help the Saudi university hire professors.
Some faculty members at Berkeley are upset about the pending deal, concerned that the $10-billion university will discriminate against women and others and limit academic freedom.
Their worries are echoed by critics of another pending deal, between California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo and Saudi Arabia, to start an engineering program at Jubail University College there. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Cal Poly would receive $5.9-million over five years to create an engineering curriculum, build laboratories, and train teachers, but only men would qualify to take or teach engineering classes at the school.
At Berkeley, the Contra Costa Times reports, a committee of the Academic Senate voted in favor of the deal with King Abdullah University.
The university, known as KAUST, is scheduled to open in September 2009. In January it announced the appointment of its first president, Choon Fong Shih, who told The Chronicle that “KAUST will operate by global standards, and there will be sufficient leeway on our campus to develop policies and rules and regulations along the lines of a global research university.”
He also expressed confidence that money would help draw researchers who could not find financing anywhere else. —Jennifer Ruark