EGYPT-JAPAN: Joint science and technology university

Senior Egyptian and Japanese officials attended the inauguration of the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology, known as E-JUST, in Cairo last Wednesday.

The groups involved in establishing the university hope it will become a leading teaching and research centre "at the crossroads of Africa and the Middle East".

The idea of a collaborative, bi-national university was first discussed in 2003 between the Japan International Cooperation Agency and Egyptian government officials. A grant agreement with the agency was signed in September 2008.

JICA has injected a total of US$700,000 into the venture. It is expected to bring Japanese expertise in the fields of business and engineering to Egyptian and other students at undergraduate and graduate level.

The agency, on behalf of the Japanese government, coordinated input of three government ministries and four government agencies, as well as academic experts from 12 Japanese universities. The inauguration ceremony was attended by dignitaries including Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Japanese Ambassador Kaoru Ishikawa and agency President Sadako Ogata.

A temporary campus in the newly established city of New Borg El-Arab, near Alexandria, began operating in February.

"Egypt‐Japan University of Science and Technology has the ambitious objective of serving the Egyptian community, Arab world and Africa through the dissemination of knowledge by teaching, publication, artistic presentation and technology transfer; and through community engagement," says the university's acting president, Ahmed B Khairy in a statement on the university website.

"As a pre-eminent research and teaching university with national and global reach, the university is aiming to cultivate an academic environment in which the highest standards of intellectual integrity and scholarship are practised.

"Adopting the Japanese education and research essence, the students should learn from and collaborate with faculty who are at the forefront of their disciplines. Faculty and staff are committed to helping students excel with a good preserve of academic freedom, promoting diversity and pertaining equal opportunity.

"E‐JUST is keen to advance rigorous interdisciplinary inquiry, international involvement and social responsibility," Khairy says.

The cooperation agency is the world's largest bilateral development organisation. In October 2008, it merged with the overseas economics section of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

JICA then took over the soft loans, formerly dispensed by JBIC, as well as the grant aid dispersed by Japan's Foreign Ministry. For the first time, one Japanese agency is now providing technical assistance, soft loans and grant aid to developing countries.

The agency works in 150 countries with a network of 100 overseas offices. It is led by Ogata, a former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.