A Canadian Delegation of University Presidents and Vice-Presidents Visits Birzeit University
On 6 July 2013, Birzeit University (BZU) hosted a ten-member delegation of Canadian university presidents and vice-presidents, led by the Representative of Canada to the Palestinian Authority, Ms. Katherine Verrier-Fréchette. The delegation met with BZU President, Dr. Khalil Hindi; Vice President for Advancement, Dr. Ghassan Khatib; Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Adnan Yahya, Vice President for Community Affairs, Dr. Samia Halileh; as well as deans of the faculties of Information Technology, Science, and Graduate Studies, in addition to the External Academic Relations Officer Ms. Dolly Kaibni. Representatives from the University of Saskatchewan, Concordia University, the University of Calgary, Queen’s University, Simon Fraser University, St. Francis Xavier University, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, and the U-15 Group of Canadian Research Universities expressed their pleasure at visiting BZU.
Hindi briefed the delegation on BZU past and present and highlighted the many achievements despite the significant difficulties faced, most notably the financial crisis, and the severe restrictions on academic development and freedom imposed by the Israeli occupation. Among other things, he noted that, “The occupation hinders the university’s progress in several aspects, particularly our inability to attract academics from abroad, due to the difficulties of obtaining visas from the Israeli authorities. The University is also unable to attract students from outside Jerusalem and Ramallah and from the Gaza Strip due to the severe mobility restrictions imposed.”
A discussion of prospects of cooperation with Canadian universities was made, particularly in terms of the provision of doctoral scholarships and postdoctoral research grants, as well as hosting Canadian visiting professors to teach at Birzeit University.