Estonia representative paves the way for expanded academic cooperation

Ann Hänni, Estonia’s Representative to Palestine, met on September 25, 2019, with Birzeit University President Abdullatif Abuhijleh and Director of the External Academic Office Amir Khalil to explore how to deepen academic cooperation and student exchange, focusing on the fields of innovation and entrepreneurship.

President Abuhijleh asserted that the university has made a significant, well-planned impact on the comprehensive internationalization of education, using innovative and creative techniques. “Nevertheless, the diversity of our student and faculty bodies, which reflects, the strongest means for diversity and global collaboration, are still at risk,” he noted.

Abuhijleh furthermore explained that, unfortunately, “International faculty and students face a discriminatory Israeli policy that aims to prevent them from staying in the West Bank by refusing to renew their visas.” 

Birzeit University, however, has made significant steps towards recruiting a number of international students, through Erasmus+. Khalil pointed out that the university hosted three Estonian students in the past two years who studied at the Department of Architectural Engineering. According to Khalil, nine visiting Estonian professors taught at Birzeit, and nine outgoing professors from Birzeit taught at Estonian universities. 

Khalil highlighted the solid ties the university has with various Estonian higher education institutions, especially in the fields of architecture, IT, e-governance, and entrepreneurship and innovation. “We will continue to strive and achieve greater cooperation with our international friends and look forward to expanding our partnership with Estonia,” he added.

Hänni expressed her pride in the Palestinian-Estonian collaboration in higher education and hailed such ties as one a major asset for the building of an independent Palestinian state. She conveyed her country’s interest in developing and supporting projects in the fields of IT and other technology sectors that impact significantly on development.