First German university in the Maghreb unveiled

Tunisia is to host an US$85 million German university that will be operational by 2021 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.

The German University of Tunis is intended to serve as a unique university of applied training, experiential learning and professional excellence, oriented towards market and industry needs. The institution will be modelled on the German applied-sciences model with the aim of preparing highly skilled graduates with relevant knowledge of industry to boost the industrial and economic standing of Tunisia and the region.

The setting up of the German university was included in a five-year plan titled Tunisia 2020: Road to inclusion, sustainability and efficiency that was introduced at the International Conference in Support of Economic, Social and Sustainable Development in Tunisia, held in Tunis from 29 to 30 November.

Third in Africa

The German university is the third to be set up in Africa after two German universities were established in Egypt: the German University in Cairo that was founded in 2003; and the Technische Universität Berlin at the campus in El Gouna on the Red Sea which opened in October 2012.

The new German university in Tunisa is the third foreign campus to be established in Tunisia following the establishment of the American University in North of Africa in September 2015, and two French institutions – ESMOD Tunis and the Paris Dauphine University – established in 2009 as indicated in a recent Branch Campus Listing prepared by the Cross-Border Education Research Team.

Private university expansion

Private education has expanded rapidly in Tunisia and the country now has 63 private institutions of higher education, with half of them focused on engineering, according to figures from Tunisia's ministry of higher education and scientific research. They serve roughly 30,000 students, equivalent to 8% of the country’s student population, according to a report by Oxford Business Group entitled The Report: Tunisia 2016.

"Today, the authorities are focusing on… bolstering private education, as a means to uplift educational standards and cut the rising unemployment rate among young graduates," the report notes.

Apart from the virtual university, Tunisia has 13 public universities which serve approximately 92% of the total student population as indicated on the universities.tn website.

The US$85 million German university will take five years to be established starting from 2016 until 2021 under the supervision of Tunisia's ministry of higher education and scientific research.

German curriculum

The German University of Tunis aims at fulfilling a university partnership between Tunisia and Germany, giving Tunisians and foreign students the opportunity to benefit from studies according to the German curriculum, and build individual competencies in engineering and technology sciences according to international standards. The university will have capacity for at least 3,000 students who will study at three levels including licence, masters and PhD.

In a bid to oversee the quality of teaching within private institutions and turn higher education into a competitive service, Tunisia's ministry of higher education and scientific research is working on a roadmap aimed at improving accountability of private universities and higher learning institutions, encouraging the modernisation of scientific equipment, organising internships and maintaining infrastructure, according to Oxford Business Group's report.