Company to set up ‘world-class’ university

A new university is to be set up in Morocco to boost research on the environment and development and to serve as an ‘engine of development’ for Mohammed VI Green City in Benguerir, north of Marrakesh.

The university is being established by OCP, a global leader in the market for phosphate and its derivatives, as part of its “mission to promote research and development”.

A June 2012 report, titled "Building Higher Education Partnerships in the Maghreb", found that the primary challenge for Moroccan graduates is that, while jobs are available, there is a disconnect between graduates’ skills and the needs of the private sector.

According to OCP, the world-class institution, set to open in the next few years, is to be called Mohammed VI Polytechnic University. It will focus on education, research and development (R&D), transfer of technologies, the adoption of innovative and promising projects, and partnerships with the corporate world.

Says the OCP website: “The university itself will emphasise R&D in areas critical to OCP Group’s development (such as mining, sustainable development and industrial management) and to the economic, social, higher education and environmental future of Morocco.”

The website explains that the university’s R&D centre will allow the company to “attract qualified students and researchers from around the world who are proficient in these critical elements of our business”.

It states that the project promises to be a “showcase for global collaboration on breakthroughs that will benefit our industry and address the crucial issue of global food supply”.

The institution is to include several schools focusing on disciplines such as management, engineering, dry-land farming, green technologies and sustainable development, town planning and architecture, business and management, governance and public administration and health sciences.

An important component of the university will be the industrial management school, which will provide the Moroccan industrial market with highly qualified managerial skills. The school will focus on theoretical courses to be consolidated by field training, in addition to individual and group projects.

Spread over 120 hectares, the new university will award bachelor and masters degrees, with the masters in industrial management being the institution’s flagship programme.

The new university is to be endowed by high quality and distinguished national and international faculty members with a range of backgrounds and expertise.

There will also be an emphasis on setting up partnerships with international institutions such as the École des Mines de Paris, Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.

Hilmi Salem, an international consultant in higher education, welcomed the new development.

"This new type of university is part of a broad strategy for reforming the higher education system for the improvement of Morocco's human resource capacity for productivity, which is a prerequisite for social and economic development," Salem told University World News.

"Universities must not operate in a sort of ‘ghetto’ or ‘ivory tower’, but must be development oriented," Salem concluded.