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Makkah varsity to hire Faisal laureates

Thursday, February 11, 2010 12:40:11 PM, Staff Reporter

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Malegaon: Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah wants to recruit the scientists who won the King Faisal International Prize in order to strengthen its research chair program, reports Arab News.


At a joint press conference on Tuesday with Deputy Higher Education Minister Dr. Ali Al-Attiyah, University President Dr. Walid Abu Al-Faraj said the program was aimed at boosting research and development in the Kingdom.


“We also want to develop the university’s role in transforming the Kingdom into a knowledge-based economy and strengthening its research and consultancy capabilities with the support of international expertise,” Arab News quoted him as saying.


Al-Faraj said the program was also aimed at realizing the Kingdom’s strategic goals and emphasizing its role in encouraging the exchange of knowledge and scholars.


“We want to spread a culture of knowledge, innovation, research and development in different sections of society,” Al-Faraj said.


He said the program would provide impetus for the university’s staff and students to contribute more in achieving excellence in research and innovation under the supervision of King Faisal Prize laureates.


“It will provide a good opportunity for Umm Al-Qura scientists to work with their international counterparts by conducting joint research and attending their lectures,” Arab News quoted the president said.


Al-Attiyah revealed his ministry’s plans to develop Umm Al-Qura into a leading university in Saudi Arabia.


“The university has 15 million square meters of land and we have plans to establish an endowment property to finance its programs,” the deputy minister said.


He said the number of students sent abroad for higher studies under the King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship Program has reached 70,000, adding that about SR10 billion is being spent annually on the initiative.


He said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah approved the program, adding that the government would pay the fees of participating students.


“A number of universities have started implementing the program and we hope Umm Al-Qura would soon join them.”


The parallel education program, introduced about six years ago, allows public universities to accept more students. Universities were charging tuitions of SR30,000-40,000 annually.


Al-Attiyah said the ministry was introducing another program to make use of the expertise of staff from international universities by signing agreements with them. “We have already established joint research centers in cooperation with foreign universities.”


The ministry has allocated SR2 billion this year for building housing units for university staff.


Contracts for these housing projects are expected to be signed within a month.


Saudi Ministry’s budget increased from SR325 million to SR16 billion over the past four years. He also disclosed plans to establish hostels for female students.


The number of government-run universities in Saudi Arabia rose from eight to 24 in the space of a few years. There are also nine private universities in the country. The government pays 50 percent of academic fees for students enrolled in private universities.





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