Between July 3 - 5, 2011 approximately 75 delegates were welcomed in the Academy Building of the University of Groningen to attend the Arab and European University Association's (AEUA)Presidents' Meeting.
The opening day introduced keynote speeches from notable guests including His Excellency Dr. Khaled Bin Mohammed Alanqari, the Minister of Higher Education of Saudi Arabia who participated in the meeting for the full two day programme and by the Dutch Minister of Higher Education, Mrs. Marja van Bijsterveldt-Vliegenthart who addressed the delegates in a video message. Both Ministers highlighted the need to promote internationalization in striving to develop a higher education system that addresses the needs of socioeconomic development. Dr. Max van de Berg, the Queen's Commissioner in Groningen further commented that Groningen was a perfect meeting point to share these common interest as 'building bridges has been a guiding principle of the Province of Groningen for years". Mr. Renk Roborgh, Director General of Dutch Ministry of Higher Education, Culture and Scienceemphasized the need and importance for closer cooperation between universities in the Arab World and Europe and supported AEUA’s efforts to promote and achieve this. In addition to University Presidents, various Ambassadors as well as representatives from the EU and from Arab and European business community were present.
Inspiring and interesting lectures were led by Prof. Sibrand Poppema, President of the University of Groningen and host of the event and Dr. Marwan Kamal, President of AEUA both of whom stressed the need to benefit from shared experiences to cooperate effectively specifically in the area of international mobility of students and researchers. Mr. Salim Rabbani, Chairman of the Lutfia Rabbani Foundation and Chairman of the Netherlands-Middle East Business Council, emphasized the need to take into account cultural diversity and respect thereof in facilitating and advancing academic collaboration between Arab and European Universities as well as active participation of the business community.
The link between education and the business community was clearly present during the two day event through active participation and contribution from the business community including a keynote speech by Mr. Nabil Aldabal, Managing Director of Aramco Overseas Company, Mr. Peter Hendriks of Springer Science and Business Media and Mr. Gertjan Lankhorst, CEO of GasTerra.
The newly elected President of the Arab University Association, Dr. Sultan Abu-Orabi, pointed out that the current situation in the Arab world combined with global economic setbacks are challenges facing both regions' commitment to ensuring quality and improvement of education. The importance of the AEUA meeting to strengthen relationships are therefore paramount in these times. Dr. Sultan Abu-Orabi wisely used the words of Henry Ford to conclude his presentation "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success'.
In addition to the above presentations, delegates had ample opportunity to network and meet each other in order to develop a stronger link between Universities, the private sector and the public sector of both Europe and the Arab World.
The following themes were discussed over the two day programme:
Quality Assurance and Accreditation
Internalization of Higher Education
Higher Education: Labour Market Driven?
The meeting concluded with the announcement that a workshop on Higher Education and the Link to the Labour Market would be held in the first half of 2012 in Beirut, Lebanon as one of the specific follow up activities which resulted from the successful AEUA meeting. Details will follow.
The Association of Arab and European Universities (AEUA) was initiated in 1998 by the Lutfia Rabbani Foundation in the Netherlands. Its primary objective is to facilitate and to stimulate collaboration between universities in European and Arab countries at an institutional, departmental and faculty level. The ultimate goal is to develop human resources and promote understanding between cultures and exchanges between the civil societies involved.
The AEUA Presidents' Meeting was supported by: