SAUDI ARABIA: New high-tech university needs autonomy

Saudi Arabia is launching its first co-educational high-tech university, but unless clerical influence is removed the state education system will not move into the modern age, analysts say, writes Ulf Laessing for Reuters. King Abdullah has invited heads of state, business leaders and Nobel laureates to the impending opening of a technology university which has attracted top scientists and is meant to produce Saudi scientists and engineers.

Faced with a rapidly growing young population, the university is part of plans to better qualify Saudis for the private-sector job market and lower the conservative Gulf Arab state's dependence on millions of expatriate workers and oil revenue.

The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is the first institute in one of the world's biggest oil exporters outside the reach of the education ministry, where clerics opposing cutting religious content have a strong say.
Full report on the Reuters site