Erasmus+ delegation explores impact of EU-funded projects on Birzeit University

A visiting delegation representing the National Erasmus+ Office in Palestine met with Birzeit University researchers and project managers during an institutional visit to assess the impact of mobility and capacity building projects on the university on October 12, 2020.

The encounter was led by Nedal Jayousi, the director of Erasmus+ in Palestine; he was accompanied by the advisory committee that comprised Subhi Samhan Azam Araj and Shehdeh Jodeh. The delegation first met with university president Abdullatif Abuhijleh; Iyad Tumar, the assistant vice president for academic affairs, and Amir Khalil, the director of the grants and contracts office, before moving on to speak with the directors of Erasmus+ projects.

Abuhijleh stressed the university’s commitment to supporting the cooperation with the European Union through engagement in projects that promote sustainable development and encompass a multitude of activities to enhance the performance of students and faculty and contribute to the achievement of the sustainable development goals in Palestine.

Jayousi pointed out that the visit is part of Erasmus+’ study on the impact of higher education that examines the benefits of various Erasmus programs for individuals, institutions and policymaking. He expressed his pride in the ongoing and fruitful relationship with Birzeit University that contributes to knowledge production and capacity building.

Khalil explained that the institutional visit seeks to evaluate two key pillars. Firstly, it assesses the effect of Erasmus+ programs on student mobility in relation to their studies and individual skills. Secondly, it examines Erasmus+ projects’ impact on faculty and staff competencies, personality traits, and attitudes as well as on Birzeit University as a higher education institution.

Khalil pointed out that the Office of Grants and Contracts seeks to promote, support and administer externally funded projects such as the cooperation with Erasmus+. “The office provides support to Birzeit University faculty and staff in soliciting funding for research and projects in the pursuit of Birzeit’s development objectives and to contribute to the public good,” he explained

The delegation then met with Erasmus+ project directors to evaluate the impact of Erasmus+ projects on students and the institution and to discuss how the ongoing Covid-19 emergency impacts  the implementation of Erasmus+ projects. It also pointed to European Union efforts in responding to educational challenges that result from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in supporting the development of digital platforms and providing training to support teaching online.

The participating project directors were Samia Al-Botmeh, the dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics; Ahmad Aljanazreh, the dean of Education; Tina Sherwell, the director of the bachelor’s program in contemporary visual art; Anwar Abdel Razeq, a faculty member at the Department of Curriculum and Instruction; Yousef Hassouneh, a faculty member at the Department of Computer Science; Rania Abdel Qader, a professional development officer at the Center for Continuing Education; and George Yerousis, the manager of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit.

As part of this ongoing partnership, Birzeit University has won funding for four projects that support capacity building in higher education through the 2021 Erasmus+ program. The university is leading two of these projects and serves as a strategic partner in the other two.