Saturday, March 15, 2008

U of SA?

Shift Happens statistic of the day (via Fortune Magazine):
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the country that sits on 25% of the planet's oil, knows that oil is not his country's future. That's why he's spending $12.5 billion to found a graduate research university, which he'll endow with $10 billion - as big an endowment on day one as MIT has built in 142 years. The point of this project, on a grand scale even by Saudi standards: to attract the best researchers in science and technology.
It will be interesting to see if the lure of money and presumably world-class facilities is enough to encourage world-class researchers and scientists to work in a less-than-open society. And, of course, whether you can create a world-class university and train world-class students without (presumably) complete academic freedom. (My guess: no, on both counts, but perhaps it will help foster some positive changes in that society.) Nonetheless, that's a ton of money to support education. Throw in India attempting to create dozens of MIT's and China taking a hard look at its higher education system, and then compare that to the lack of prominence education is receiving in the U.S.'s current presidential election, and - perhaps - we might be seeing the beginning of the downward slide of U.S. universities' dominance.


  1. Considering our government is reactionary as a rule, this might be good for us in education. We'll just have to keep watch. As you know, they have no interest in devoting anything additional to education...especially thought in progressing it.

  2. Maybe this will be another Sputnik moment.

  3. Is Saudi Arabia doing this because of what's happening in Qatar and Education City? Or is the growth happening simultaneously?

    Either way, I agree with the previous commentors: would LOVE to see the US eventually take notice. But it's tough to spend time on a system that's there to keep your constituency "in line."

  4. If the state of California is any kind of barometer, then we are indeed in deep trouble. In my district we are looking at losing 111 teachers, 2 school closures, and more, depending on the May state budget revise. San Diego Unified sent out over 900 pink slips last week. What's wrong with this picture?

    In light of NCLB which any k-12 educator will tell you provides test scores and numbers that are basically meaningless, I would be suprprised if our formerly outstanding university system lasts another ten years. What a shame that great teachers need to "teach to the test" for the sake of AYP numbers, and no longer have the ability to teach for depth and true understanding -the kind of learning that has in part, made our universities the strongest in the world. NCLB has made our schools a "closed society" through exclusion, lack of funding, and just plain ignorance.