University

When regional universities meet in Beirut

They came from Egypt, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Sudan, Palestine, Jordan or Iraq to meet their Lebanese colleagues in Beirut at La Sagesse University during the 14 November 18th. Rectors and representatives of university institutions in the Middle East, members of this conference founded in 2007 under the aegis of the Agence universitaire de la francophonie (AUF), discussed the priority problems facing universities in the region. Topics that the Rector of La Sagesse University and current President of the Confremo, Lara Karam Boustany, announced from the beginning in her opening speech. It is about “artificial intelligence and the scientific Francophonie, the production of knowledge in French and its promotion, digital governance, but also governance as such and its new realities”. “The challenges set a year ago persist. But the Confremo has the benefit and merit of grabbing it and discussing it, ”she assures.

Furthermore, for Jean-Noël Baléo, Regional Director of the AUF Middle East, “Confremo is the ideal place to face the challenges but also the solutions that can work on the ground in the specific context of our region”. In view of the difficult situation in higher education, the leaders of the institutions “have a duty to develop strategies for anticipating sectoral policies to meet the university challenges in the Middle East”, he continued.

Between assessments and measures that are implemented

In addition, the General Assembly allowed the Confremo thematic commissions to present the results of their work in parallel to the workshops and round tables. The head of the Commission “Structuring and Controlling Research”, Nidaa Abou Mrad, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs and Research at Antonine University, announced in this regard that the first achievement of this commission was “the establishment of the electronic register of the French language – speaking researchers in the Middle East”. The collected database will be made available to the general public on a website currently under development. The directory will be updated with new submissions way how it is implemented in our region in the field of research”, he adds. What led to the workshop “How to promote the production of knowledge in French in the Middle East?” to take stock, but also to the process of scientific Anglicization in the Be rich natural sciences, humanities and social sciences and to propose ways that would strengthen the scientific Francophonie of the French-speaking universities in the Middle East.

The second topic raised during the General Assembly focused on digital governance. Dima el-Husseini, Head of the Commission “Strategy and Tools for Digital Governance” and Vice-President for Education at the French University of Egypt, emphasized in her speech that digital governance “is the definition of a homogeneous and global strategy within the company that reflecting the vision of all actors”, which encompasses all applications of digital technology.

In this context, the workshop “Digital governance in the service of sustainable development goals” was based on 4 axes: Use of digital technology to ensure educational resilience, technologies and empowerment of women, innovation and technology transfer as well as strengthening IT sustainability and access to science and technology.

In addition, Rajaa Fakhoury, Dean of the Faculty of Health at the Arab University of Beirut and Head of the Commission “Quality Assurance and Accreditation Process” mentioned in her speech the goals of the commission, such as the development of internal capacities or the professionalization of quality managers in the field of evaluation of online teaching. Regarding her action plan, following the survey carried out on universities’ difficulties in ensuring quality for online learning, she believed that there must be “a national law” that organizes the latter and also “carries out training and initiates a quality assurance guide for.” online teaching” in cooperation with the AUF.

Carla Eddé, Vice-Rector for International Relations at Saint-Joseph University in Beirut, notes that the “Internationalization of Institutions: Establishment of Projects, University Partnerships” commission, for which she is responsible, “a list of contacts of leaders of international Relations of the 48 entities concerned” to facilitate the creation of links between Confremo members. She also addressed the issue of binding regulations for the study of foreign students based on the pilot case in Lebanon. “It will probably put off international students and even universities,” she lamented, before announcing the creation of a “Guide to Lebanon’s Regulations for International Students.” The idea is to then work on guidelines with other Confremo member countries. Carla Eddé also mentioned the 3rd project presented by the Commission, that of the common approach to university ranking, including the training of trainers, as well as networking aimed at ranking.

Workshops that meet the needs of businesses in the region

The General Assembly also gathered its participants around two other workshops, the topics of which correspond to the needs of member companies in the region. The first workshop entitled “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Scientific Francophonie” followed the World Week of Scientific Francophonie. Their speakers discussed expectations of the Francophone Research Network on Artificial Intelligence (ReFIA) founded by the AUF. Finally, the training workshop “The Evolution of Governance Models in Higher Education: New Realities for Leadership”, led by the operator CLICKS, made it possible to examine the evolution of governance models and their best practices in times of crisis, but also how higher education institutions could face the challenges and create common and participatory governance structures.

They came from Egypt, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Sudan, Palestine, Jordan or Iraq to meet their Lebanese colleagues in Beirut at La Sagesse University during the 14 November 18th. Rectors and representatives of academic institutions in the Middle East, members of this conference…

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