The American University in Cairo has been selected by the European Training Foundation (ETF), the European Union’s specialist agency for promoting human capital development, to pilot a set of indicators for promoting entrepreneurial learning in higher education. AUC competed with other universities in the Southern Mediterranean and Western Balkan region (which includes the republics of the former Yugoslavia and Albania). It was the only academic institution in Egypt selected to participate in the first phase of the two-year project, along with universities from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Algeria, Morocco and Kosovo.
“AUC meets a number of important criteria of an entrepreneurial university in terms of its programs offered, ways of engaging with enterprise and society and being an active partner in a number of international networks and universities,” said Hassan Azzazy, a professor at AUC and chair of the chemistry department, and who has been selected by ETF as the national expert for testing the indicators at AUC.
A team of entrepreneurial learning experts from ETF and two European countries (Albania and Kosovo) visited AUC between September 27 and October 1 to carry out a peer review of entrepreneurial learning activities. “The purpose of this exercise is to determine if and how the indicators could be eventually applied to a broader university community both inside Egypt and wider international higher education environment,” Azzazy explained.
The purpose of the project is to highlight strategic developments in campus entrepreneurial education with a particular emphasis on university strategy, curriculum, staff development and university-enterprise cooperation. Additional emphasis is given to national education policy in entrepreneurship education.
A team of experts met with key officials from AUC departments and focused on issues such as core curriculum and staff development while stimulating debate about how best to promote the entrepreneurial mindset on the AUC campus. Other campus officials who met with the international team included AUC President David D. Arnold, Provost Lisa Anderson, AUC Counselor Amr Salama and students from Entrepreneurs’ Society.
“Universities are important agents of change and we are here to determine how entrepreneurship education across all AUC departments and schools is being promoted,” said Anthony Gribben, senior entrepreneurship expert with ETF. “From my experience, good practice from wherever can be a spur for others to move forward with their own developments. AUC has excellent potential to share its good practice with other universities, both in Egypt and beyond, in taking the entrepreneurial route. The crux of the matter is that every university department, staff member and student signs up to an entrepreneurial learning agenda.”
“Applying the entrepreneurial learning indicators to AUC has been an exciting process with potential prospects,” Gribben said. “AUC is the right place to pilot this process. It’s an open learning environment, with faculty staff clearly dedicated to creating opportunities for its students and backed up by leadership keen to ensure the university contributes to a more competitive and inclusive Egypt,” he added.
According to Azzazy, the indicators provide a good framework for more strategic developments at AUC particularly in terms of university policy, faculty development and cooperation with enterprise. “The international review is keen to determine how our good practice can be shared with other universities and this is something we need to look at more closely,” Azzazy said, underlining how AUC offers programs that meet the demands of today’s market while creating an entrepreneurial caliber of faculty, students and graduates. “We are a leading institution in Egypt and the Middle East,” added Azzazy, “and our combined efforts across the different departments of AUC provide the essentials for building a more entrepreneurial university.”
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