American academic institutions sign agreement to foster US-style education abroad

Published May 28th, 2008 - 03:52 GMT
American academic institutions sign agreement to foster US-style education abroad
The American University of Beirut was one of 18 American universities and colleges from the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia which established a new association grouping academic institutions that are conceived and organized on the American model of higher education.
The Association of American International Colleges and Universities (AAICU) was created during a meeting held at the American University in Cairo on April 10 – 12, 2008, in the presence of the presidents, provosts and chief academic officers representing the 18 signatories.
The association aims to promote American standards of education, cultural exchange and research and development. It also hopes to bridge cultures and foster dialogue among nations within the framework of the American liberal arts tradition. Moreover, it will monitor standards of American-style education at a time when many institutions claiming to follow US standards of education are proliferating.
According to the Cairo declaration, "AAICU member institutions aim at a global standard of excellence by providing privileged spaces of intellectual interchange, academic freedom and responsibility.  They also promote the pursuit of learning and of democratic values so their graduates are prepared for the rapidly changing needs of the twenty-first century."
"AAICU members institutions are leaders in their local communities, driving research, educating our youth and providing an outlet for cultural exchange," said AUB President John Waterbury. "But the influence of these colleges and universities extends far beyond political boundaries: internationally, we are ambassadors of the U.S. system of higher education and academic freedom. The AAICU Cairo Declaration expresses our unanimous dedication to these principals and urges the support of U.S. higher education institutions worldwide."
While AAICU members enjoy institutional authority and independence, they need to be accredited by a major US accreditation body in order to be accepted into the association.
"Those of us involved in higher education in this region believe that as we teach young leaders to embrace rigorous analysis and intellectual tolerance, radicalism can be trumped. Conversely, if higher education fails to provide the abilities young Arabs need to succeed in modern society, hopes will be dimmed, and minds closed," David Arnold, president of American University in Cairo and a member of the Association of American International Colleges and Universities.
The Cairo Declaration also urged both the US federal government and US foundations and corporations to support their quest of spreading American education worldwide by expanding programs that support educational, scholarship and research grants abroad as well as the development of American schools and hospitals overseas.
"AAICU institutions are among America’s most important cultural assets in different regions of the world, and are deserving of both public and private support. In particular, AAICU urges the federal government to support the work of our institutions through expanded eligibility and funding of existing programs," said the signatories through the declaration.

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