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AECHE Thematic Conference on “The Networked University” links Arab and European universities in Al Gouna, Egypt

23 October 2015

The AECHE Thematic Conference “The networked university: opportunities and challenges for Higher Education between the Arab World and Europe” brought together over 150 participants from European and Arab countries. The conference took place on 10-12 October at the Campus of the Technical University of Berlin in Al Gouna, Egypt and was the first-ever conference of EUA to be held at the branch campus of an EUA member institution.

The conference contributed to the Arab-Euro Higher Education Conferences (AECHE), a platform for collaboration and exchange initiated by EUA and the Association of Arab Universities (AArU). Its secretariat is housed by the University of Barcelona  (UB), and its steering committee comprises key actors from both regions.

The Al-Gouna conference followed up the discussions on international mobility and its impact on university partnership initiated at the “AECHE2” which took place in Amman, Jordan last year. In targeting leadership in internationalisation and also practitioners, a wide range of internationalisation modes and approaches were discussed, including capacity building partnerships, research collaboration between both regions and off-shore campuses. 

Many of the case studies dealt with several of these topics, demonstrating the polyvalence of cooperation initiatives in higher education. For example, the TUB-Al Gouna Campus, backed by an Egyptian private investor, was created to contribute to human resource development in the area of energy and urban planning, but also regional development, as it offers in its surroundings a test field for research and state-of-the-art equipment. Other models presented were the Paris-Sorbonne Faculty of Law at the University of Cairo, operated jointly by both institutions (though awarding a Paris-Sorbonne degree) and the German-Jordanian University, which is actually not ”off-shore” as such, but a jointly conceived “local” university. 

Participants generally had a keen interest in internationalisation as a means to enhance quality and relevance – and saw international partnerships, and more specifically joint centres and campuses, as part and parcel to this. The initiatives and institutional case studies that were presented demonstrated the ability of the universities and academia to merge social, economic and cultural diversity, and to some extent even to lever the impact of political controversies and conflict in society. However, there was also clear awareness of the limits to and the fragility of these approaches, in view of armed conflicts and resulting insecurity and isolation in the different parts of the Middle East.   

The conference was an immediate transition to the upcoming AECHE3 conference for university leadership that will take place in Barcelona in May 2016. 

In the context of AECHE, EUA will continue to monitor and support European Neighbourhood Policy developments and the role of higher education and research cooperation in this. 

European University Association (EUA)

Brussels office:
Avenue de l’Yser, 24
1040 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 55 44

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Tel: +41 22 552 02 96