Students from a little known Saudi university are to be helped into Oxford colleges as part of a deal involving a £2m gift from the kingdom's defence minister.Apparently, this has infuriated senior members of the university who want "to see a clear separation of Oxford's academic mission from its fundraising activities."
In documents seen by the Financial Times, the university formally thanks Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz for "his munificent benefaction to the Ashmolean Museum" and outlines arrangements for bringing students from Prince Sultan University in Riyadh to Oxford.
In the memorandum of understanding, Oxford promises to "endeavour to identify four to six colleges with resources and expertise" for visiting students from Prince Sultan University. It will also "seek to expedite the application process".
Peter Oppenheimer, a senior academic at Christ Church College, said: "Prince Sultan [University] is not Princeton. Of all the thousands of universities in the world, why are we having a special relationship with a second-rate university? It is hard not to conclude that a foreign university have bought their way in."Although the university insists that "[t]he document states that students will have to satisfy the admissions criteria in the same way as any other student", there appears to be obvious concerns to the integrity of the entire process.
Anyone sees the potential similarities to the alleged RM500 million "donation" to Cambridge University by our very own Government? Will it raise an equally damaging furore whereby our universities get labelled "second-rate", or worse?