Govt OKs Setting Up Of 2 New Universities

RIYADH, 22 June 2003 — In a move to privatize the Kingdom’s education sector, the government has given permission to private organizations to set up two new universities and 36 colleges.

Government incentives will include land for campuses at subsidized costs as well as soft loans for construction of buildings.

The implementation of these projects will attract an investment of SR3 billion. The Ministry of Higher Education has granted licenses for the establishment of these colleges in nine different cities over the next few years, said a ministry statement.

There are already six private colleges in Jeddah, Riyadh, Abha and Al-Baha. The new colleges will be set up in Riyadh and Jeddah and in other areas including Tabuk, Hail, the Eastern Province, Buraidah, Madinah, Qassim and Taif.

The statement said that the Council of Ministers had agreed that private academic colleges could receive government subsidies and soft loans similar to other economic or service sector projects.

The decision stipulates that appropriate government-owned land be leased at low rates to the licensed private colleges, which could also receive government soft loans similar to those given to private hospitals or other private entities in different sectors.

Additional incentives will also be granted if the college is to be established in a region where there is dire need for it.

The government has also approved the establishment of two private universities. One of them is an affiliate of Riyadh Charitable Foundation for Sciences, which owns Prince Sultan Private College for Boys and Prince Sultan Private College for Girls in Riyadh as well as Prince Sultan Private College for Dentistry in Riyadh.

The other university is Dar Al-Faisal, an affiliate of King Faisal Charitable Foundation which owns Iffat Private College in Jeddah and Prince Sultan College for Tourism and Hotel Management in Abha.

The statement further pointed out that the establishment of these two universities, in addition to the existing ones owned by the state, comes within the framework of the government’s desire to provide citizens easy access to higher education.

At present, the Kingdom has eight state-owned universities. These universities have 76 colleges with over 239,000 students pursuing courses in 400 different subjects. The Kingdom has 72 faculties affiliated to the General Presidency of Girls Education with an estimated 195,000 students.

The Ministry of Education also has 18 technical faculties with an enrollment of nearly 22,500 students besides 500 students currently at health institutes across the Kingdom.

Umm Al-Qura University was the first university to be established in the Kingdom, followed by Islamic University in Madinah and Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh.

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