Kingdom launches first private university

05 April 2002

The King Faisal Foundation has announced the establishment of a SR 700 million ($187 million) private university in partnership with a US technology institute. Construction of the privately financed Dar al-Faisal University will begin in late 2002. The project will involve the construction of administrative and residential buildings, lecture halls and laboratories on a 130,000-square-metre plot of land in the grounds of the King Faisal palace in Riyadh.

'The design of the buildings has now been finished and we are in the process of inviting contractors to bid for the development stage,' project director Abdulrahman al-Harakan told MEED on 2 April. 'We are also working with the Ministry of Higher Education to secure permits for the curriculum.'

The university is expected to take in its first students in September 2003, and will be staffed by local academics and teachers from the private New Jersey-based Stevens Institute of Technology. The curriculum will focus on language training, business studies and technology research. Among the delegates attending the official inauguration of the Dar al-Faisal Alliance for Business & Technology on 1 April were representatives from The Boeing Companyof the US, which has invested $2.5 million in the university. Other founding partners include BAE Systemsof the UK, United Technologiesof the US and six private Saudi investors.

Some 130 graduate students will enrol in the university in its first term, with admissions expected to rise to about 1,600 graduate and undergraduate students by 2009. Unlike publicly funded universities in the kingdom, which offer students a stipend of up to $272 a month, Dar al-Faisal University will charge $15,000 a year.

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