Amsterdam Municipality Delegation Meets Students, Staff

President Abdul Latif Abu Hijleh received a campus delegation from the Dutch city of Amsterdam headed by Mayor Van Der Laan on  8 September 8, 2015.

The visit was one in a series of meetings organized by the Ramallah Municipality and hosted by mayor Musa Abu Hadid for the delegation to meet with representatives of the private, academic and cultural sectors.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Henry Giacaman, Vice President for Administration and Academic Affairs Adel Zagha, Vice President for Community Outreach Lisa Taraki and Assistant to the President Mirvat Bulbul attended the meeting.

General manager Ahmad Abu Laban, member of the council Alaa Abu Ein, public relations manager Maha Shehada, as well as Wadee Riziq from the Dutch Embassy in Palestine also were present.

Abu Hijleh briefed the delegation on the history of the university and the main obstacles hindering the development of higher education in Palestine, for example the struggle to collect funds to develop the educational sector considering the economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The obstacles also include Israeli policies, he said, which prevent students’ access to the university, academics visiting from abroad to work in Palestinian universities, the enrollment of Gaza’s students in West Bank schools, while arresting students and rejecting the visa applications of foreign students wishing to study at Birzeit University.

Abu Hijleh also presented an overview of the academic ties between Birzeit University and Dutch universities, especially in the water sector. He said the idea behind establishing an environmental and water institute in Birzeit University was born in 1994. It first started as a training program in cooperation with Dutch Academic institutions to boost the skills of workers in the water sector.

The idea developed until it became two Masters programs in the science of Water and Environment Engineering under the complete supervision of Dutch academic staff. The president discussed in depth and praised the twenty years of sustainable cooperation in the fields of water and environment.

The Dutch delegation and university officials discussed ways to enhance cooperation and mechanisms to provide academic staff from Holland with scholarships, invite students to continue their education and establish exchange programs and joint academic programs with the university of Amsterdam in particular.

Towards the end of the meeting, Mayor Der Laan and the delegation met with a number of students who shared with them obstacles facing education in Palestine, especially the difficulties students experience crossing checkpoints and the arrests and deaths of colleagues who were killed or wounded by the Israeli army.