By Mahmoud Triki, Academic and Founder of South Mediterranean University-SMU
The Interest of the Higher Education Sector
The higher education sector has significant advantages over other service sectors, including:
• Less vulnerable to political vagaries than the tourism sector: The American University of Beirut has continued to function despite the bombardments of Beirut and its political instability which has lasted for several years.
• Generator of Significant Currency Resources: An international student is a resident tourist for the duration of his program and a future ambassador of Tunisia in his country. According to statistics from the International Institute of Education (IIE), for the year 2019 foreign exchange earnings from international students enrolled in American universities is estimated at more than 42 billion US Dollars.
• Contribution to the integration of the Tunisian economy into the world economy. International students create a multicultural environment beneficial to Tunisian students. In addition, they develop affinities with their Tunisian comrades favoring subsequent commercial exchanges, and even the launch of joint projects. Finally, an international student is a future ambassador of Tunisia in his country.
The creation in Greater Tunis of the Mediterranean City of Science and Technology. This is the development of an ecosystem inspired by that of Stanford University which is at the origin of the development of Silicon Valley in California (USA). The objective is to develop an international university city bringing together Tunisian universities and renowned North American and European universities interested in organizing training and research programs targeting African Mediterranean countries.
• Contribute to the development of the Tunisian university system on an international scale;
• Promote Tunisia as an educational destination and attract (1) Afro-Mediterranean students to carry out their university studies in Tunisia and (2) students from developed countries interested in the Mediterranean region and Africa for their “Study Abroad Program – SAP”;
• To make Tunisia a center of research dealing with problems relating to the economic and social development of Africa and to attract researchers from renowned European, North American and African universities interested in the Mediterranean countries and in Africa to use the Tunisia as a base for carrying out their research projects.
Main components of the City
The Main Components of the City include:
• A set of campuses to host the programs of renowned Tunisian, European and North American universities wishing to offer their training programs and research projects of interest to Mediterranean and African countries. At full capacity, the city will have a capacity of 20,000 students, 50% of whom will be international students, university residences with a capacity of 10,000 students, a sports complex, and buildings for the administration of the city and activities. socio-cultural;
• Research centers of multinationals wishing to capitalize on the research potential of universities established in the city. Indeed, large companies develop their research activities around renowned university centres. Stanford is behind the development of Silicon Valley, MIT and Harvard in Boston are another case in point;
• Business incubators to promote the development of startups bringing together Tunisian and African students
• An International Conference Center.
• One or two hotels to accommodate teachers and visitors to the city, parents of students and other visitors to the city and an entertainment center (cafes, restaurants, and convenience shopping).
• A subdivision adapted to develop villas and buildings for the accommodation of the occupants of the city.
The land requirements for the development of the proposed city are around fifty hectares, 50% of which for the development of the international campus and 50% for the other components of the project.
Drawing inspiration from the strategy adopted for the development of the Tunisian tourism sector during the 1960s when the government made available to hotel promoters land in the state domain at the symbolic Dinar in different regions of the country (Nabeul Hammamet , Sousse-Monastir, Djerba….); stimulate the interest of investors in this sector by making land available to them on attractive terms.
A National Commission designated by the Ministries of (1) Higher Education and Scientific Research and (2) tourism. The South Mediterranean University- SMU, the first university in Tunisia organizing its programs in English and having developed partnerships with several North American and European universities is mobilizing to contribute to the implementation of the project.
Academic and Founder of the South Mediterranean University-SMU