February 18, 2014
Against the picturesque setting of fog-shrouded Ifrane, a small resort town in the Atlas Mountains, where skiing is a popular pastime this season, the University of New England (UNE) and Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane (AUI), a leading American-style institution in Morocco and North Africa, signed an agreement today to collaborate on academic and cultural interchanges to advance the internationalization of higher education.
This important and highly symbolic event came soon after UNE, with thriving campuses in Biddeford and Portland, Maine, welcomed the inaugural group of students to its new site in Tangier, a major Moroccan city that is undergoing a renaissance and experiencing phenomenal economic growth and cultural development. UNE students have quickly immersed themselves in their academic programs, spanning the sciences, culture and languages.
President Danielle Ripich says that an agreement with AUI will “strengthen our presence in Morocco” and broaden the scope of possibilities. “We are delighted to partner with a prestigious university like Al Akhawayn. There is much we can do together, as the only American or American-style institutions in Morocco at this time.”
Vice President for Global Affairs Anouar Majid, who oversees all academic and cultural programming of UNE in Morocco, states, “This partnership is long overdue. AUI and UNE have been in each other’s radar for many years now. AUI’s President Driss Ouaouicha is a great colleague and friend, and he is very enthusiastic about the presence of UNE in Morocco.”
The agreement between the two universities enables the exchanges of faculty, students and staff that promote innovative academic and cultural experiences. These could include joint research projects; seminars, conferences and workshops; summer programs; blended teaching via information and communications technology (ICT); and community service and service learning opportunities. Online education and student life are other areas where the institutions could benefit from their partnership.
Late last month, 23 UNE students were invited by President Ouaouicha to spend a weekend on AUI’s campus. The students were welcomed by their English-speaking Moroccan peers, experienced campus life at a Moroccan university, and witnessed snowfall in the beautiful mountainous region of Ifrane.
Both university campuses are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including modern laboratories, classrooms and residence halls, and are easily accessible to major cities such as Rabat, Casablanca, Fez and Meknes. Students are taught by faculty researchers and scholars who are leading experts in their fields.
“UNE’s agreement with AUI reflects both our commitment to graduate educated global citizens, and UNE’s distinctive role in advancing American-Moroccan relations and cooperation,” states Vice President Majid.
For more information, visit UNE's Global Education website.