A BEACON LIGHT

Morocco 2020/21 | EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

Apart from doing its utmost best to take care of its staff and students during COVID-19, Euromed University of Fes is strongly committed to several technological projects that are of help to wider society.

Prof. Mostapha Bousmina

How did the university adapt to COVID-19?
When COVID-19 emerged, Morocco quickly took strong and proactive actions to manage an unprecedented crisis, under the direct supervision and leadership of His Majesty the King. Euromed took various measures and actions for our students and society. First, we implemented close to 100% distance learning for all our programmes. Notably, with help from the EU, we provided new computers and 4G internet sticks with one-year subscriptions to 530 students from rural areas and low-income families. We also acted to take care of our foreign students. We sterilize the dormitories, hand out PPE equipment, and provide packed lunches, drinks, and other items. We also offer psychological counseling when needed. As for society, our staff has voluntarily donated part of or entire one-month salaries to the national fund for the management of COVID-19. Second, we have produced thousands of protective visors and donated them to hospitals and regional administrations. We have also developed washable, sterilizable, and reusable plastic masks with homemade filters that comply with international medical requirements.The masks are manufactured by our 3D printing facilities. We have developed a new respirator valve and a new air-flow meter in our university in collaboration with doctors from Rabat. We have also developed an application for tracking COVID-19. Our university has been extremely active during this period of containment and confinement. We are doingour best to take care of our staff and students, and we are strongly committed to technological projects that are of help to society.

UEMF offers a wide range of programmes. Which ones are the most popular?
In September 2019, we opened a new engineering school, the first of its kind in Europe and Africa: a five-year engineering school completely dedicated to AI. We have concluded several agreements with various universities from the two shores of the Mediterranean. Presently, we have nine entities, three faculties, three engineering schools (mechanical engineering, civil engineering, IT engineering, biomedical, and AI engineering), a school of architecture, a school of business, and an institute of law and political sciences. In September, we will open a faculty of pharmacy. UEMF offers world-class bachelor's, master's, and PhD programmes.

UEMF has several partnerships with foreign universities. What is your strategy in this regard?
Our strategy is to act as a platform that bridges, from educational and cultural viewpoints, the two realms of the Mediterranean. We have strong collaborations and partnerships with universities and research institutions from across the world. For example, we were expecting to receive some students from Stanford University in 2020 but unfortunately, this had to be postponed due to COVID-19.

Can you tell us about your eco-campus?
From the beginning, the campus sought to be an eco-campus that got the labeling from COP22. We have included several sustainable technologies, with the objective to be energy sufficient, consume minimal water, and go solar. Some of the technologies we use are highly insulating materials, photovoltaic and thermal solar devices, and water recycling systems. The design of the buildings was inspired by the ancestral know-how of the city of Fes.

How would you rate the Moroccan educational sector?
In the last five years, we have witnessed an important expansion, with a wide choice of universities including public universities, not-for-profit universities, and private universities. The number of students has also tripled. This brings various challenges, such as ensuring a true digital transition in universities. Second, we have to design career-oriented programmes as well as proactive programmes. It is also of high importance to revise the 01-00 law governing the higher education system. To comply with international standards, Moroccan universities should also open more to the diaspora and international students. Finally, a true assurance quality system should be implemented in universities with a top-down and bottom-up assessment and evaluation.