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European universities are concretising their cooperation with their African counterparts


Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Tuesday, March 15th 2022 à 14:50 | Read 293 times



European and African universities will work more closely together (photo: F.Dubessy)
European and African universities will work more closely together (photo: F.Dubessy)
EU / AFRICA. Gathered for three days in Marseille (9 to 11 March 2022) in the premises of Aix-Marseille University (AMU) at the Pharo, the European universities members of Civis (European Civic University)* have decided to strengthen their partnership with their African counterparts. This event, held under the aegis of the French Presidency of the European Union https://en.econostrum.info/Western-Balkans-and-Africa-at-the-heart-of-the-French-EU-Presidency-agenda_a1178.html (PFUE), was held under the theme "New horizons for the Europe-Africa Partnership".

"The European Universities Initiative (EUI) is the EU's flagship higher education policy. Hundreds of universities from across the continent are joining alliances that push the boundaries of student mobility, integrated teaching and research collaboration," says Annemie Schaus, rector of the Free University of Brussels and president of Civis. More than 300 academic institutions are brought together in 41 alliances in the European Union. The Civis network, one of which is coordinated by AMU, includes ten major European universities* representing 470 000 students and 68 000 staff members.

To the question posed in the Phocaean city, "Should these alliances be made to the detriment of partnerships with other universities, especially those located outside Europe?", the ten members of Civis answered in the negative, while specifying that they wanted "to pay particular attention to relations with the African-Mediterranean region". Moreover, from its creation in 2019, this initiative envisaged becoming "a bridge between Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa".

Rachid Saile and Mohammed Talbi, respectively vice-president and president of Hassan II University in Casablanca, sign a partnership agreement with Annemie Schaus (Université Libre de Bruxelles), president of CIVIS (photo: F.Dubessy)
Rachid Saile and Mohammed Talbi, respectively vice-president and president of Hassan II University in Casablanca, sign a partnership agreement with Annemie Schaus (Université Libre de Bruxelles), president of CIVIS (photo: F.Dubessy)

"Trans-Mediterranean collaboration in higher education

In a joint statement at the end of the meetings, Rachel Sandison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow for External Engagement, called for UIE to "act as a catalyst for challenge-based education. Humanity is now facing global problems, so our search for solutions must extend to partners beyond Europe's borders. The text also calls for "broadening the definition of student mobility to include exchanges and study visits that take European students outside Europe or bring students from around the world to European universities". But also to support "equitable research partnerships, as foreseen in the agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) on an EU-AU innovation programme."

"Today, we are putting our principles into practice with an ambitious partnership agreement for trans-Mediterranean collaboration in higher education," Rachel Sandison emphasises. These words are reflected in the initialling, on Friday 11 March 2022 in the Phocaean city, of a partnership agreement between Civis and its six strategic partners** defining the projects to be carried out jointly by European and African universities.
 

Alongside the president of Civis, Abdelwahed Mokni, president of the University of Sfax, formalises his commitment to cooperation with European universities (photo:F.Dubessy)
Alongside the president of Civis, Abdelwahed Mokni, president of the University of Sfax, formalises his commitment to cooperation with European universities (photo:F.Dubessy)

"Equality between African and European partners"

"This new agreement will institutionalise cooperation with the whole alliance and its members. Equality between African and European partners and the opening of a framework allowing new channels for South-South cooperation are fundamental elements of our approach," the signatories insist.

The six universities from the African continent present in Marseille, including those of Hassan II in Casablanca (Morocco) and Sfax (Tunisia), will be able to be integrated into the Civis Hubs, places where academics work together to develop educational and other activities responding to global challenges. This will open up new opportunities to leverage their shared capacity to seek external funding.

Rachel Sandison interpreted a joint declaration calling for closer ties between European and African universities (photo: F.Dubessy)
Rachel Sandison interpreted a joint declaration calling for closer ties between European and African universities (photo: F.Dubessy)
* Aix-Marseille University
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
University of Bucharest
Free University of Brussels
Autonomous University of Madrid
Sapienza University of Rome
University of Stockholm
Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen
University of Glasgow
University Paris Lodron, Salzburg
 
** Hassan II University of Casablanca, Morocco
University of Sfax, Tunisia
University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar, Senegal
Makerere University, Uganda
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique



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