Minister announces new academy of sciences

A new academy of sciences and technologies of Algeria will be opened this month, Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research Tahar Hadjar has announced. He also stressed the importance of the role of universities within the economy.

Hadjar told the Algerian Press Service that the headquarters of the Académie des Sciences et des Technologies d’Algérie, or ASTA, would be located near his ministry at Ben Aknoun in Algiers.

Its 46 core members, who were appointed by an international jury and include 11 women, are from 40 higher education institutions in Algeria, with the remaining six from the Algerian community abroad.

They will be responsible for choosing future members, who should number 25 new researchers every year to reach a total of 200 members, said Hadjar.

He also intended to create two more academies, one devoted to medical sciences and the other to arts, languages and humanities, as well as a centre of astronomy and an international institute of mathematics, reported the Algerian Press Service, or APS.

ASTA’s missions will be to contribute to the progress of science and technology and their applications, dispensing expertise and advice, encouraging scientific activities by publishing new findings in journals for scientific communities both at home and abroad, and participation in scientific debate on current major issues, said APS.

Economic importance of universities

On a different occasion Hadjar, speaking at the Ecole Nationale Polytechnique d’Oran, or ENPO, at the start of the new academic year, stressed the importance of the role of universities at the heart of the nation’s economy, reported APS.

“The major objective assigned to universities is to integrate further into the economic and industrial environment,” he said. “Higher education institutions must evolve in harmony with the needs expressed at a local level by the economic sector.”

Speaking at a ceremony marking the graduation of the first engineers from ENPO, Hadjar praised the ‘exemplary’ institution which had entered into several partnerships with local companies and collaborated with local industry, achieving a positive impact on economic development and the job market with the placement of several of its graduates in partner organisations.

ENPO will also mark the new academic year with the opening of its first preparatory classes in science and technology, reported APS. The two-year classes are open to 389 school-leavers who have achieved high scores in their baccalauréat examinations.

During his visit Hadjar laid the foundation stone of the future town research and studies centre linked to the University of Oran-2, reported APS. He was told that the centre would carry out research into areas such as urban management, natural and industrial risks, and digitisation and information and communication technologies.

He also inspected the sites of three faculties under construction at the university – of natural and life sciences, which will offer 3,000 places; Islamic sciences, 3,000 places; and foreign languages, 5,000 places – and of the future central library.

Overcrowding at Médéa

Meanwhile, the rector of the Université Yahia Fares de Médéa, Ahmed Zeghdar, has reported a shortfall of 8,000 places at the start of the new academic year, according to APS.

The theoretical capacity for the area, calculated to be 15,000 places, was this year far outstripped by demand with the arrival of 6,000 new students, bringing the total number of students to 23,000. This was leading to great pressure on a number of institutions in the region, said Zeghdar.

He added that the deficit was due to the delay in recent years of constructing new buildings to keep up with the rising number of students, and pointed out that “no provision of new places for students has been registered since 2009”.

Plans for 1,600 places at the Médéa university centre and 8,000 for the Ouzera campus, which should have reduced the deficit and offered better conditions for students in the area, were “seriously late”, he said.

* This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.