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.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
U of SA?
Shift Happens statistic of the day (via Fortune Magazine):