Birzeit University establishes vocational links with Swiss universities, research centers

A team of experts from Switzerland visited Birzeit University on Saturday, September 8, 2018, to explore channels of academic cooperation and develop vocational linkages with Swiss universities and research centers. 

The team comprised Geri Müller, president of the L'Association Suisse-Palestine(Swiss-Palestinian Association); Bernhard Ruhstaller, an infrastructure specialist; and Ron Ganzfried, an information and communications technology specialist at Swisscom. 

The Swiss delegation met with Director of the Palestine Techno Park Laith Kassis, who took the team on a tour of the park - established on 20 dunums donated by Birzeit University - and introduced them to the park’s efforts in incubating technology-related startups and developing the Palestinian technology sector. 

The team also met with Vice President for Planning and Development Dr. Ziad Mimi and discussed the university’s efforts to better integrate students within the industry with programs such as the “Leadership and Active Citizenship Program - Masari" and the various labs and programs supervised by the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit.  

During the delegation’s meeting with External Academic Relations Officer Dr. Amir Khalil and Assistant Director of the Public Relations Office Tina Rafidi, the Swiss experts emphasized innovation in vocational education and the translation of studies to real-world applications. 

Khalil, who introduced the team to Birzeit University’s history, its academic stature, and its ability to offer world-class education despite the Israeli Occupation’s violations of the right to education, highlighted the university’s interest in offering its students global perspectives, citing the numerous partnerships established with European universities. 

The team, along with Khalil and Rafidi, discussed the best methods to develop the Palestinian vocational system so that it graduates expert technicians who combine knowledge with real-life experience, and stressed the need for a mechanism by which Palestinian academic studies can be applied on the ground. 

Members of the Swiss team expressed their interest in establishing partnerships between Palestinian research centers, such as the Samih Darwazah Institute for Pharmaceutical Industries, with their Swiss counterparts, with a focus on combining vocational training with academic education.