TIEC’s President and CEO Robin J. Lerner spearheaded both the visit and the memorandum after a visit to Egypt two years ago. “After meeting Minister Abdel Ghaffar and hearing his ambitious vision for higher education in Egypt, I wanted him to come and share that vision directly to our members. Egypt and Texas have many common interests in education, research, and industry. I feel strongly that Texas can play a positive role in modernizing Egypt’s higher education, and Egyptian students, faculty, and researchers can contribute to the internationalization of our campuses in Texas. It’s about finding the right partner and fit and believing in the vision.”
During his visit with TIEC, Minister Abdel Ghaffar described the current landscape of higher education in Egypt and elaborated on the government’s plan to increase the number of international universities with a presence in Egypt through branch campuses, dual degrees, certificates offerings, quality assurance programs, and other types of collaboration. Egypt does not have enough university seats for all the talent coming up through its high school. Egypt also sees the potential to become a regional hub for international students. In order to support both the need and the vision, the ministry is inaugurating new signature state-funded universities and has passed legislation enabling private universities and collaborative knowledge hubs funded through private investment with international partners. The goal is to see these private universities and hubs become an established part of the higher education fabric in Egypt. International partnerships with existing state-funded institutions are also high on the priority list for the ministry.
Minister Abdel Ghaffar specifically included Texas in his U.S. trip in January thanks to TIEC’s work to create higher education partnerships between Egypt and Texas, and his recognition of the rich opportunity that exists with consortium members.
“The United States does not have one central contact point for universities outside of the United States who are looking for partnerships in the way Egypt does with the Ministry of Higher Education. It occurred to me two years ago that TIEC’s large, statewide membership allows for a much more efficient channel for ministries seeking partnerships. Our ability to facilitate introductions and bring institutions together allows us to play a uniquely helpful role,” explained Lerner.
TIEC arranged individual meetings during the second half of the day between the Minister and TIEC members. The one-on-one meetings helped to transform the conversation from higher-level ideas into actionable steps. Several TIEC members emphasized the importance of considering online delivery. In fact, the pitch was successful enough for the minister to request that TIEC assist Egypt in integrating online educational models. The interpersonal connections established through the visit were vital and would not have happened without TIEC’s ability to bring so many institutions together at one time and place. Through TIEC CEO Robin Lerner’s familiarity with TIEC members and her specific experience with Egypt, she was able to focus the meetings on areas of joint interest.
Member universities who participated were Lamar University, Prairie View A&M University, Midwestern State University, Texas A&M International University, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas Southern University, Texas State University, Texas Tech University, Texas Woman’s University, The University of Texas at Arlington, The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of Texas at Tyler, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, University of Houston-Clear Lake, University of Houston-Downtown, and University of Houston-Victoria.
The visit and the MOU have already spurred new potential collaborations between TIEC’s Texas universities and Egypt’s higher education institutions. TIEC is helping to facilitate cooperation and gathering proposals from our members to be delivered to the ministry. For Minister Abdel Ghaffar, the trip was also personal. He completed his training in dentistry at The University of Texas Medical Branch and going back to Houston was like coming home. “I owe this country a lot. My experience in Houston totally changed my career, it changed my life,” said Minister Abdel Ghaffar. TIEC hopes to be part of multiplying that sentiment for Texans and Egyptians for years to come.