Closer relations between Cardiff Metropolitan University and three of its key partners in the Middle East have been confirmed this week following top-level meetings which will strengthen UK-Middle East research, teaching and leadership development.
Professor Cara Aitchison, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff Metropolitan University, along with Pro-Vice-Chancellor International, Professor Mohamed Loutfi, has just returned from high-level meetings in the Sultanate of Oman, Bahrain and Egypt.
In Oman, Professor Aitchison, a Board Member of the Arab European Leadership Network in Higher Education (ARELEN) attended a Board meeting which resolved, among other things, to develop a programme to support women into senior leadership positions in Middle East universities. The ARELEN network was established to help universities and academics utilize the soft power of education in building national economies and international relations. Professor Aitchison also gave presentation to a conference hosted by ARELEN and in which she emphasized the importance of the ‘student voice’ in Higher Education. Drawing on the experience of Cardiff Metropolitan University, she pointed to the role of students on the University’s committees and the recent visits by Student Union officers to international partners.
Whilst in Oman, the Vice-Chancellor took the opportunity to visit the University’s main partner, Gulf College in Muscat: www.gulfcollege.edu.om Also accompanying the Vice-Chancellor on this visit was the UK Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman, John Wilkes, and Ambassadors of Egypt and Tunisia. Professor Aitchison commented that “Gulf College is rapidly developing into a very international university and we are delighted to partner with such a forward-looking Institution. We already work together on business and management degrees, so the opportunities for both institutions to provide additional courses in areas such as dental technology and ceramics is great news”.
Minister of Higher Education in Oman, H.E Rawya Saud Al Busaidi received Cardiff Met Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice Chancellor to discuss Cardiff Met current and future activities in Oman.
Following the recent visit by Theresa May for the opening of the Gulf Countries Council in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Cardiff Met Vice-Chancellor visited the Applied Sciences University in Bahrain www.asu.edu.bh which is Cardiff Met’s newest transnational education partner. The two Universities signed a memorandum to run Cardiff Met programmes in business and management. Students from both countries will also benefit from the relationship, with possibilities for joint courses and exchanges, adding to the student experience and international ethos of both universities.
Professor Aitchison also visited the University of Bahrain, the only public University in the Kingdom and home of the first Media Centre in any Middle East university. A productive meeting with the University’s President resulted in agreement to support the University of Bahrain in developing its sport-related provision to take advantage of growing interest in sport medicine and sport sciences.
The final visit was to Egypt and the Arab Academy www.aast.edu/en/ which is one of the key partners for Cardiff Met in the Middle East and North Africa region. Professor Ismael Ghaffar, President of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport offered support for the initiative by Cardiff Met to offer support for any students that may be affected by the proposed entry ban for nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen to the USA.
The Arab Academy has a unique multi campus set-up which includes a ‘smart village campus’ in the heart of the business district on the outskirts of Cairo https://www.smart-villages.com/en/news-item/item/74/page/168. Many of the world’s best technology companies have a presence there. Professor Aitchison also visited the Arab Academy campus in Alexandria where she was shown the University’s state of the art planetarium, science education programme and 12 different maritime simulation facilities where, after a quick tutorial, she successfully captained a ship into port!