Bilateral higher education plan unveiled
The Egypt-China higher education cooperation plan was unveiled by Egypt’s Higher Education Minister Ashraf El-Sheehy during a visit to China on 17 August, according to a press report.
Under the plan outlined in ElWatan News, a Chinese university will be established in Egypt at the new administrative capital, offering disciplines unique to China. In addition, a technological college will be set up, intended to be a model of Chinese leadership in the field of technology and to promote entrepreneurship in Egypt. There are also plans to set up an Egyptian university in China.
The joint Egyptian Chinese University – the first Chinese university to be set up in Africa or the Middle East – announced in February 2013 is currently being built in Cairo. The Egyptian Chinese University is a joint venture between Liaoning University and Egypt's International Education Institution, according to Sinograduate which provides a list of China's collaborative campuses around the world.
Patents and start-ups
In an effort to narrow the gap between university educational outputs and the needs of the workplace, and to encourage new businesses, China will organise training programmes for Egyptian researchers at universities and research centres on how to transform scientific ideas into patents and start-up companies.
China's training programmes will help to prepare Egypt's scientific workforce to manage a national programme for technological incubators and the Knowledge and Technology Alliances programme that were launched in October 2015.
These programmes aim at commercialising technologies developed by final-year university students and university graduates. They are also intended to bring together partners, including universities and research institutions, working across the innovation chain to tackle technological and societal challenges.
During a 19 January visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Egypt, a Chinese scholarship programme was announced which included an offer of 500 PhD and masters scholarships to Egyptian students interested in studying in China, according to Egypt's information services.
These Egypt-China higher education initiatives are in line with China’s 13 January 2016 Arab Policy Paper which focuses on sharing information about trends and ways to strengthen higher education, and building scientific and cultural cooperation between universities in China and the Arab world’s 22 states, which include eight countries in Africa, six in the Arabian Gulf and eight in Asia.
Mimi Kirk, director of research and publications at the United States-based National Council on US-Arab Relations told University World News that the educational projects outlined in China's Arab Policy Paper constitute “a continuation but also a strengthening of China's soft power strategy in the region”.
"I don't see any potential negatives for China, as its soft power initiatives in the Arab world are a safer endeavour than delving into the region's politics and conflicts," Kirk said.
Expanding on Kirk's views, Research Fellow at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University Xuming Qian told University World News: "China-Arab higher educational cooperation is the cornerstone of China-Arab relations because it helps to cultivate talented people in the economy, management and technology sectors. This promotes social and economic development as well as helping Chinese and Arabian people better understand the culture and value of each other and push cooperation to a deeper level."