Interestingly, there are a couple of different articles today on US education assistance for Saudi Arabia and Saudis.
The New York Times is less negative about the issue than The Los Angeles Times:
U.S. Universities Join Saudis in Partnerships
Three prominent American universities â€” the University of Texas at Austin, the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University â€” are starting five-year partnerships, worth $25 million or more, with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, a graduate-level research university being built in Saudi Arabia.
Under the agreements, the mechanical engineering department at Berkeley, the computer-science department and Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering at Stanford, and the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at the University of Texas will help pick the faculty and develop the curriculum for the new university, known by the acronym Kaust, which is scheduled to open next year with a $10 billion endowment.
Over the five years, each university will receive a $10 million gift, $10 million for research on their home campus and $5 million for research at Kaust, as well as administrative costs.
â€œThe agreement will allow us to improve our facilities here in California, and fund a stream of graduate students, without taxing our existing infrastructure,â€ said Albert Pisano, the chairman of Berkeleyâ€™s mechanical engineering department, which he said had voted 34 to 2 to proceed with the agreement. â€œWeâ€™re going to work on projects that are good for the Middle East and for California, like energy sources beyond petroleum, improved water desalination, and solar energy in the desert.â€
Despite its enormous oil wealth, Saudi Arabia lacks world-class research universities. In the last few years, as the Persian Gulf nations have begun to worry about the eventual need to convert from an oil-based economy to a knowledge-based economy, they have started offering lavish inducements to American universities to bring their expertise to the region.
Christian Science Monitor has a piece that’s the other side of the coin: bringing Arab students (including those from Saudi Arabia) to schools like MIT and Harvard:
A bid to enroll Arabs in U.S. colleges
MIT students help dispel their fears and doubts about applying to American schools, where they remain a relative minority after 9/11
Tom A. Peter
Cambridge, Mass. – Like any good high school student, Lana Awad dreamed of an Ivy League education. But when the Syrian teen started applying to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, and Harvard College, her guidance counselor told her to think smaller. After all, no one from her high school in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia had ever gone to a college farther away than Lebanon, just across the Arabian Peninsula.
“They wanted me not to be disappointed, not to feel, you know, rejected … advising me not to aim too high,” says Ms. Awad. In the end, she got into Princeton and MIT, where she is now a freshman.
At a time when Arab enrollments in US universities are still recovering from a post-9/11 plunge, it is experiences like Awad’s that an MIT student group is trying to change. The College Admissions Arab Mentorship Program (CAAMP), whose members have just returned from their annual tour of Middle Eastern schools, aims to ensure that myths about American colleges and life in the US don’t deter Arabs from studying here. The group encourages Middle Eastern students to take advantage of US universities so they can become more effective leaders in their homeland, as well as agents of cross-cultural exchange.