BERKELEY -- UC Berkeley is negotiating a secretive deal with a developing graduate university in Saudi Arabia, where Berkeley faculty will collaborate on research and help the school hire professors.

But the collaboration has raised significant questions among Berkeley instructors about whether the Saudi school will discriminate against women and others, as is the case at most of the country's institutions.

Berkeley administrators have declined to disclose most information about the developing agreement, denying several requests from the Times for public records. University attorneys said disclosing the records could derail the contract with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which the two schools expect to finalize as early as Tuesday.

A campus faculty leader said some professors in Berkeley's mechanical engineering department -- which would provide consultation to the Saudi school -- had "huge" concerns about the agreement, particularly about academic freedom and gender and religious discrimination.

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