In 1996 the government launched a program to promote the development of
private higher education institutions in the sultanate, providing subsidies in the form
of low-interest loans, land and tax breaks. By 2014 there were 27 private colleges
of higher education and seven private universities in the country. Meanwhile, The
Research Council was established in 2005 as part of the sultanate’s aim to move
towards a knowledge-based economy with the target for research and development
spending set at 2% of GDP by 2020.