By : Dr. AbdelHak Azzouzi
Moroccan Professor, Writer and Thinker
Founder and Member at several World’s Research Centers and Organiztaions
The French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, visited us recently at the Euro-Mediterranean University in Fes, accompanied by distinguished officials such as Ambassador Jean-François Girault; And the Consul François Xavier Tilliette. The minister was briefed on what has been achieved so far in a modern university, having the honorary presidency of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, and its construction was mandated by 43 Member States at the Union for the Mediterranean.
The minister expressed his great admiration for what has been achieved so far in a research institution that seeks to link the two shores of the Mediterranean, Africa and even the world. It is considered as well a “development locomotive” for the region and to have a prestigious ranking among major international universities.
In this regard, I salute the President of the University Professor Mustapha Bousmina, one of the world’s leading scientists in physics, who has dozens of patents and the recipient of many international awards and largely helped in founding several large laboratories, especially in North America. I also salute Chairman of Board of Trustees Chancellor Mohammed Kabbaj, who spent most of his career in development and construction. I also greet all members of the Board of Directors from Morocco and from the Mediterranean, such as Egyptian Ambassador Nasser Kamel, secretary general of the Union for the Mediterranean, based in Barcelona, in which I’m honored to be a member, and we are all striving together to enhance production and creativity.
It is true that the Union for the Mediterranean has stumbled in many stages; but we remain optimistic about scientific research within an unequal field between the North and the South, because this one is really the locomotive for constructive and lasting cooperation without visas and without geographical borders or political obstacles … I still remember when I organized a preliminary conference which took place in 4-6 December 2008, and before the Paris summit on 13th of July 2008 which founded the Union, we called at the closing recommendations to establish a a Euro-Mediterranean university to be based in the city of Fes; when the city was celebrating the twelve centuries anniversary of its construction.
The city houses the oldest university in the world, The University of Qaraweyeen (the villagers). Back then, some were thinking that this proposal is just a dream that is difficult to achieve but, now, it has become real, thanks to good intentions, concerted efforts and a firm belief that the future is bright while putting in consideration science and modern learning and selflessness, in addition to insistence on the principles and values of humanity and civilization.
The future of nations and peoples will be changed by science, learning, technology, expertise and exchange of information; I swear to God, the Arab states will aggrieve the next generations if we do not invest in the human element, with regard to capacity building and motivation. Everyone should understand that the development of the university lies in its effective response to several challenges. Among those is educational programs; we should provide programs based on knowledge economy needs (with respect to human and social sciences). It is mainly about equipping graduates’ with qualifications helping them to become “global” and responsible citizens.
In addition, Today’s University must respond to contemporary challenges in the form of government or academic policies and programs. How can the university introduce itself abroad? How would it establish partnerships with foreign business or universities? How would it facilitate the movement of professors, researchers and students? The organizational culture must reflect this internationalization and should be applicable in all sectors of the university (human resources, curricula, etc.) as the higher education, beyond national borders, is supposed to adopt another dimension.
This type of cooperation necessarily calls for the establishment of a regional network that ensures quality and reliance on accreditation systems, research and innovation as well as governance. Cooperation must be solid enough throughout the region, whether it is national, regional or international.
It is also not surprising that the higher education partnerships has profoundly transformed the structure of higher education over the past two decades. The best answer is to diversify education (private, community college, on-line). The other solution is to make students’ mobility flexible within the educational system or between different regions.
But is the university a place where students learn to think or a place to gain access to the job market afterward? This is really the fundamental philosophical question that arises. Here too, the university must clearly define its vision and mission. In general, the university raises two simple questions: Who are we? And what do we do?