The four branches of King Abdulaziz University in north Jeddah, Rabigh, Al-Kamil and Khulais, are to be turned into independent universities, the official spokesman of the Ministry of Higher Education said. The spokesman also said the two branches of the Makkah-based Umm Al-Qura University in the cities of Al-Qunfudah and Al-Laith would be made financially and administratively independent and each would carry the name of the city hosting it. The spokesman, Muhammad Al-Haizan told Al-Watan daily that using the provisions of the recently announced general budget allotted for higher education, the ministry would implement its plan for higher education during the next 25 years that consisted of establishing new universities, building branches for the existing ones and constructing a number of new colleges. He said an independent budget would be earmarked for the Saudi distance-learning electronic university that would be launched at the beginning of the next year. Al-Haizan also said seven university hospitals would be built including one at King Abdul Aziz University in north Jeddah with 400 beds and the others at the universities of the central and northern regions. About 24 percent of the general budget of 2012 was allocated for higher education. Saudi Arabia has 24 government and seven private universities. The Minister of Higher Education Khaled Al-Anqari also said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has approved a number of proposals made by the Higher Education Council including the transforming the industrialization technology program at King Saud University into an advanced institute. Spelling out other decisions, the minister, according to the Saudi Press Agency, said an institute for construction industry would be established at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, adding that it would contribute to improving management of engineering projects. The council also decided to establish two scientific publishing and translation centers in Qassim and Northern Border universities as well as a nutrition treatment center at Dammam University (DU). The DU’s deanship for the preparatory year will have new departments of English, computer, basic sciences and self- development, he added. A deanship for the development of skills will be established at Noura bint Abdul Rahman University while a deanship for the preparatory year, another for academic quality and approval and a third for electronic education will be set up at the Northern Border University. The council renewed the service of 191 members of the teaching staff at some universities. It also renewed the terms of some university officials including Abdullah Bafel, vice president (projects) of King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, and Firdaus bint Al-Saleh, vice president of Princess Noura university.