India deepens higher education cooperation with Egypt
The plan aims at strengthening academic, scientific and cultural cooperation between universities in India and Egypt, along with exchange of knowledge and best practices in teaching, research and administration.
The plan was the outcome of the conference focusing on "Egyptian-Indian Dialogue for Higher Education for Sustainable Development", in Beni Suef, Egypt, on 8-10 May – and is part of a broader Indian strategy to build cooperation between universities in India and the Arab world’s 22 states, approved at the First Ministerial Meeting of the Arab-India Cooperation Forum held in Bahrain in January 2016.
The conference was hosted by Egypt's Nahda University in partnership with Educational Consultants India Limited or EdCIL – a central government enterprise and consultancy and project management organisation.
Higher education diplomacy
Under the Indo-Egyptian plan, a task force will be set up to identify priority areas for cooperation especially in the modernisation of curricula, reform of education to improve graduate employment and improve links between universities and industry, and plans to cope with the tremendous growth of knowledge.
University chairs for Arabic and Indian studies will be established in selected Egyptian and Indian universities. This follows the establishment last year of the first Indian professorship chair of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in the Arab world at Egypt's Ain Shams University to enhance awareness of technological progress for India and promote educational exchanges.
The plan also includes setting up a repository for information about all aspects of higher education in both Egypt and India.
Besides encouraging joint academic programmes and research projects at the graduate and postgraduate levels in several fields – including information and communication technologies, management, science, and engineering along with vocational and technical education – the plan includes organising scientific and educational meetings and workshops on issues of national, regional and global significance, and forming networks among Indian and Egyptian universities.
Egyptian and Indian higher education institutions will also cooperate to establish a non-profit university inspired by the Indian model.
India will set up a ‘medical city’ in the new administrative capital due to be built in the east of Cairo. The medical city is expected to be three times the size of Cairo's Kasr al-Aini Hospital complex, which is one of Egypt's biggest research and teaching hospitals. The project will incorporate a university, a nursing institute and six hospitals.
There is also a plan to set up an Indian University in Cairo, specialising in information and communication technologies, which would be the first Indian branch campus in North Africa and the fifth in Africa – the other four are in Mauritius.
Samir Khalaf Abd-El-Aal, research professor at the National Research Centre in Cairo, said the Indo-Egyptian higher education cooperation plan was a “win-win deal".
"While it helps Egypt develop its scientific and technical workforces and higher education infrastructure and benefit from best practices in Indian universities, it helps India develop a new image as an economic powerhouse as well as deepening and strengthening its political, economic and cultural relations across Africa.”
India leads in overseas higher education provision from non-Western countries, with more than 17 campuses abroad, according to 2015 report entitled India’s Emergence as a Regional Education Hub.
Other Indian initiatives in Africa include the establishment last year of a centre of excellence in information technology at Egypt’s oldest university, Al-Azhar University, by one of India’s leading IT organisations, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, paid for by the Indian government.
India's Pan-African e-Network Project, one of the flagship programmes of the Indian government to strengthen ties with Africa, has been operating through an E-learning Centre at Alexandria University that will soon be ready to serve as a regional centre for the entire North African region, both for e-learning and tele-medicine.
At the conference, India's EdCIL announced 10 fellowships for Egyptian students of Nahda University in Beni Suef to carry out postgraduate studies at both masters and doctorate levels in different scientific fields at Indian universities.
The Indian government also provides scholarships for Egyptian students. Hundreds of Egyptian students have been given Indian Council for Cultural Relations Scholarships in leading universities in India.