The Minister of Jordan, His Excellency Amin Mahmoud, and Professor Sultan Abu-Orabi, Secretary General of the Association of Arab Universities (AArU), led the launch of The ARab European Leadership Network in Higher Education (ARELEN) on 24th February 2014 in Amman, Jordan.
Professor Antony Chapman, Vice Chancellor and Principle, and Professor Mohamed Loutfi, Pro-Vice Chancellor (International), among other members of Cardiff Metropolitan University's International Office staff, were in attendance, as well as Ambassadors from Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen, and delegates from across Europe.
ARELEN is an outcome of the Tempus project, Leadership in Higher Education Management (LHEM), which is coordinated by Cardiff Met. It involves the following organisations: AArU, Cardiff Met, The British Council, The Leadership Foundation UK, and the Magna Charta. ARELEN, which is based in Jordan and is a sub-entity of the AArU, aims to support universities in their transformation process through the provision of a platform which offers best practice exchanges between universities in the Arab region.
ARELEN will function as a bridge between the Arab region and Europe for universities in the two regions to mutually learn from each other and to increase international cooperation.
Professor Sultan Abou-Orabi commented on the success of the launch: 'The ARELEN network developed in order to enhance the relationship between the Higher Education institutions in Europe and the MENA region. I was honoured and pleased to see such a gathering for the official launch of ARELEN and I have no doubt that ARELEN will be a significant addition to the two regions.'
Remarking on the success of ARELEN, Professor Mohamed Loutfi said: 'I am glad ARELEN is now an independent body with a governing and advisory board and a steering committee and it thrills me to be here today for the official launch of ARELEN. I would like to thank Professor Sultan for hosting and organising the ARELEN launch, and for taking the responsibility for progressing this forward. As one of the initiators, I am glad, and feel proud, to see where ARELEN is today. I am sure that under AArU's leadership ARELEN will flourish.'
The launch event was followed by a three day workshop on Capacity Building for Internationalisation, which was led by the Leadership Foundation UK. This provided an opportunity for the ARELEN committee: Presidents, Rectors, Vice-Presidents and Deputy Rectors, with responsibility for internationalisation in the MENA region, to discuss the nature of globalisation and the need for the internationalisation of Arab universities to enable them to play a more effective role in their nations to create greater opportunities for their students, staff and stakeholders. The workshop encouraged the sharing of experiences across countries and enabled participants to learn from successful practice in the Arab world and in the UK. All participants developed action plans during the workshop which are being followed up.
The Leadership Foundation's Director of International Projects, David Lock, who was also the Workshop Director said, ''the energy in the room was terrific. The group melded very quickly and participants were soon contributing to their colleagues' proposals. Specific subject-based partnerships were explored and I am sure that these initial conversations will go onto develop into projects that become a reality.'
'Judged by the success of the first workshop the ARELEN initiative looks set to make a significant difference to the capacity of Arab Universities in the coming years.''