Tunis to host first American university in the Maghreb

Tunisia is to host a US$100 million American university that will be completely operational by 2020 and will be the first of its kind in the Arab Maghreb region, which comprises the North African countries of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

A partnership agreement on the university’s creation, between Tunisia’s private Université Montplaisir Tunis, or UMT, and a number of United States universities, including Clayton State, was signed on 27 January in Tunis, according to a press report.

The new American university is the second to be set up in Africa – the American University in Cairo was founded in 1919 – and the second foreign campus in Tunisia after two French institutions – ESMOD and Paris Dauphine University – set up there, according to the January 2015 "Branch Campus Listing".

The 50,000 square metre campus will be built at Tunis Financial Harbour, about 25 kilometres north of Tunis, and will cost about US$100 million, which will be provided by private donors and UMT.

The university

“American University in Tunisia – AUT – will be a comprehensive, independent, for-profit, coeducational institution of higher education that will foster excellence in teaching, learning and research,” says a concept report titled Future Project – AUT.

Furthermore, it will be “Based on an American model of higher education and grounded in the culture of the Maghreb’s region”.

The new university will follow the ‘2+2’ model, in which students spend two years studying in Tunis and then two in US partner universities, to earn a double degree.

Courses will cover a broad range of topics, such as law, medicine and economics, and will receive official accreditation from both the US higher education system and Tunisia’s Ministry of Higher Education.

A document provided to University World News by UMT says that the American University in Tunisia project will be implemented in two steps.

The first has already been taken, with the launch of the American Business Programme, which started during the 2014-15 academic year under the auspices of UMT in partnership with American universities.

“In addition to the college of business administration, the American business programme will include colleges such as engineering, technology, medicine, pharmacy, nursing sciences, law, arts, humanities, social sciences and agriculture,” according to the document.

The second step will be the opening of the American University in Tunis in 2020 on its own campus, with construction due to start in 2017.


“Such a university would be extremely significant in addressing world-class workforce needs within the context of ongoing economic development in Tunisia and the Maghreb states,” Dr Avinandan Mukherjee, dean of the college of business at US-based Clayton State University, told University World News.

The global partnerships for the emerging university would benefit students and academics in Tunisia and the US alike, “as opportunities for student and faculty exchange and joint degree programmes develop over the next few years.

“This arrangement also fits well within an ambitious globalisation initiative at Clayton State University and its college of business, which has developed international partnerships with universities in South Korea, India, France, Hungary, Germany etc,” Mukherjee said.