A faculty group from the Maurer School of Law traveled to Saudi Arabia to deepen an existing relationship with King Saud University. The faculty members visited the Islamic Development Bank, King Saud University and other universities to build relationships.
This is the law school’s first partnership in Saudi Arabia. William Schaad, director of international admissions, said e believes partnerships like these are beneficial to students and staff.
The delegation also spoke with King Saud University and other universities about joint degree programs where students could come to IU after completing a degree at their university or the other way around, said Austen Parrish, law school dean and professor.
Parrish said there are 200 Saudi Arabian students on the Bloomington campus and 600 Saudi students in the IU system.
"It made sense to develop this relationship," Parrish said. "The law school doesn’t have large numbers of Saudi students, but we always have a strong contingent of really top students who come from Saudi Arabia."
It is important for IU to share experiences, knowledge and resources with other parts of the world, Schaad said.
Schaad traveled with the delegation because a few of the contacts they were meeting in Saudi Arabia were students he had admitted back in 2012. He said he also wanted to provide information about admission standards and qualifications.
Schaad had also lived in the Gulf region and was familiar with the culture, he said.
Saudi Arabian laws are based on religion. Those laws are experiencing various changes, like the implementation of a new tax system.
When Saudi students study at IU, they can compare the Saudi legal system to the U.S. tax system, Schaad said.
“It is important to have as much variety as possible in the legal profession,” Schaad said.
Parrish said there are massive changes occurring in Saudi Arabia, such as the liberalization of women, new tax laws and new banking laws. There is an opportunity for joint research.
“For the first time significantly more women are studying or are able to study law in Saudi Arabia,” Parrish said. “You are seeing a significant increase in women obtaining a law degree in Saudi Arabia, which provides us with an opportunity to help educate the next generation of leaders.”
The law school has a strong commitment to educating students about the world around them, Parrish said.
He said he wants to provide students with many different opportunities based on that model. Saudi Arabia is just one of many countries with which the Law School has connections.
“Deep experiences in other cultures are really important,” Parrish said. “They make you well rounded. They make you understand in a comparative way your own legal systems and it makes you a more sophisticated professional. Often these days there are cross-border implications.”