Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi has issued a decree to establish the Egyptian Chinese University in the capital Cairo – the first Chinese university to be set up in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The decree issued on 21 February is a first step in implementing a 10-year higher education plan aimed at reforming the sector and promoting the development of a knowledge-based economy through the establishment of 60 new universities.
The new university will also hope to benefit from China’s higher education experiences in producing market-ready and employable graduates, in a country where a mismatch between what students learn and the skills the economy needs is seen as a serious problem.
The Egyptian Chinese university has been proposed as a joint project between Liaoning University, a leading institution in northern Shenyang, which will provide curricula and accreditation, and Egypt's International Education Institution, which will be responsible for the university's infrastructure.
It will have four faculties – economy and international trade, physical therapy, pharmacy technology and medicine, and engineering and technology – and will be home to a Confucius Institute that will promote the Chinese language and culture.
According to a report titled Chinese Universities Abroad, China's first overseas campus – of Jiangsu's Soochow University – opened to undergraduate students in the Laos capital Vientiane in 2012. Another Jiangsu-based institution, the University of Ningbo, opened a campus in the Italian town of Florence in 2012. And last year Jinan University offered a two-year MBA through Myanmar's Chinese Chamber of Commerce.
The Egyptian and Chinese higher education communities welcomed the new initiative and suggested ways to develop it further.
The joint university would be conducive to developing science and technology collaboration between Egypt and China, Huang Haiming, a professor at the China-based Beijing Jiaotong University, told University World News.
"I think that advanced technological subjects should be taught at this joint university,” said Haiming, suggesting a field such as advanced materials.
Echoing Haiming's view Ji-Huan He, of the Nantong Textile Institute at Soochow University, told University World News that the joint university could be of “indispensable importance” to both China and Egypt and should be developed as a world-class institution.
“To this end, I suggest including some frontier research such as nanotechnology along with establishing an international centre for scientific development to strengthen the scientific and educational cooperation between the joint university and elite universities worldwide.”
Magdi Tawfik Abdelhamid, a researcher at Cairo's National Research Centre, told University World News: “I hope that this joint university acts as a bridge to transfer higher education best practices from China to Egypt, which is suffering from an enrolment growth and quality crisis within its universities.”
While the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings included 11 Chinese universities in its top 500 world universities including three in Hong Kong, no Egyptian university was mentioned.
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