A university in Connecticut will help shape the instruction of some security officers in Saudi Arabia under an agreement announced Friday that the school describes as bringing American-style police training to the kingdom.
Under the agreement, signed this week at a Riyadh ceremony, faculty from the University of New Haven's Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences will advise the King Fahd Security College on the creation of a new security studies program.
Other American universities have worked with Saudi institutions, but officials at UNH say they believe they are the first to collaborate in the area of criminal justice. The agreement was signed with the Saudi Interior Ministry under a Technical Cooperation Agreement between the two governments that promotes the transfer of security-related knowledge and skills from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia.
"We're very pleased to be developing with the ministry an American-style program," said Daniel May, the UNH provost.
May said the idea for the collaboration grew out of work the college has done in the Middle East and around the world to advance modern policing, led by the famed forensic scientist Henry Lee. The school's relationship with the Saudis dates back decades and about 400 Saudi students are currently enrolled at the University of New Haven, more than from any other foreign country.
It took eight years for the agreement to be reached as the two sides worked through cultural differences, the time difference and concern about human rights issues, May said.
The latest U.S. State Department report on human rights practices for Saudi Arabia noted concerns including citizens' lack of ability to choose their government, pervasive gender discrimination and reports that some members of the security forces and other officials committed abuses with impunity.
Experts from the Lee College will help the college in Riyadh to develop curriculum for a four-year bachelor's degree program with specializations available in criminal justice, homeland security and intelligence studies. Instruction will be in English and under U.S. guidelines for academic freedom, May said. A UNH team will be on site in Riyadh to launch the program, which is expected to enroll about 150 new students each fall.
May said he could not share details of the financial terms.
UNH President Steven Kaplan, who signed the agreement in Riyadh, said it will put the school's expertise at the service of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's security professionals.
"This agreement deepens longstanding bilateral educational cooperation between the U.S. and KSA, and we are honored to support the further development of security expertise upon which so many in the region and beyond depend," he said.
UNH, a private institution founded in 1920 and based in West Haven, Connecticut, enrolls nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 5,000 undergraduates.