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Anwar Bentajer, marketing manager, international relations Africa Zone of the Universiapolis (Morocco) / "We are a university of excellence, experience, seriousness and citizenship"

Anwar Bentajer, marketing manager, international relations Africa Zone of the Universiapolis (Morocco) / “We are a university of excellence, experience, seriousness and citizenship”

In an interview that he agreed to give us during his stay in Mali, Anwar Bentajer, marketing manager, international relations for the Africa zone of the Universiapolis (International University of Agadir in Morocco) tells us about the reasons for his visit to Mali, the specificities of their university, its advantages and its relations with Mali.

Today-Mali: What is the purpose of your visit to Mali?

Anwar Bentajer: You should know that this is not the first time that I have visited Mali. I visit Mali once or twice a year and especially in recent years since we set up a representation in Bamako which is headed by two colleagues, namely Mrs. Ilham Ait Addi and Aziz Mikhod. And this of course shows that we want to further develop the relationship between Morocco and Mali, especially at the level of higher education, knowing that we have received Malian students for almost 30 years.

We want to develop this niche and receive more Malian students. So, my visit has several objectives, in particular, firstly, it is to meet the Moroccan authorities, namely the Ambassador of Morocco in Mali who has already received us by giving us a very pleasant welcome and with whom we have exchanged on several aspects , starting with the academic component. We made a presentation to the Ambassador of what we are doing exactly as a program, as a course at our university. We also talked about cooperation, the partnership that exists between our university and the Malian Ministry of Higher Education since we have been receiving students for 5 to 6 years. And then, HE the Ambassador demonstrated the good faith so that we could develop other partnerships and enrich the existing partnership.

The second objective of our visit was to meet the Minister of Higher Education. We are going to present to him the novelties of our university and see together how we can develop this partnership between our university and the Ministry of Higher Education of Mali. We met some partners on site here in Bamako. We also met the former winners. Which is an important element. We graduated Malian laureates 25 or 26 years ago.

Can you give us a brief presentation of your university?

Our university is called Universiapolis International University of Agadir which is located in the city of Agadir, the capital of southern Morocco. It has been around for 33 years. Exactly, the university was created with a first faculty of management in 1989 with the help of the Canadian International Development Agency and the educational partnership of the Canadian University. Since then, it has continued to develop. It created its polytechnic school of engineers. Then, she created her school of Communication-Human Resources. Subsequently, she created her law school, her health trade school. Today, our university is a 7 hectare university group, including the 5 structures that I have just mentioned. It has university residences which welcome foreign students, including Malians. And I would like to inform you that we welcome students from 18 sub-Saharan nationalities, including Malians. We have at the level of the university campus: sports complexes, a research center, an international library, a doctoral school and a continuing education office. The university has developed partnerships with foreign universities.

At the beginning, the traditional partnership was with the Canadian university and it spread with European universities, in particular French, Chinese, Polish. This means that today students can come and do a cycle with us, of course there is a specific course. Within the framework of a partnership, they can complete their studies for the other partner universities.

Our university maintains close partnership relations with sub-Saharan countries, whether with governments, ministries of higher education, certain NGOs in these sub-Saharan countries.

And the particularity of Mali is that we officially have official representatives of the university with offices that exist here in Bamako which welcome parents, laureates and who welcome future students. What wants to say that the people who want to inquire, the offices give them sufficient information to be registered at the level of our university.

Nowadays, can we know the staff of your university and the number of Malians?

At our university level, we have about 3,000 students. Each year, we receive a group of Malian students, either within the framework of the partnership (grant holders from the Malian State), or in a private framework in which it is the parents who pay so that their children can come to study in our university in Morocco.

Among these 3,000 students, there are now approximately 200 Malian students who are there and who have integrated easily. I would like to point out that our university reserves every year a very positive welcome, very favorable for students, generally foreigners. This reception is done by reception committees which accompany the students from their arrival at the airport and accompany them to install them at the level of the university residence respectively the accommodation, then, thereafter, accompany them in the administrative procedures such as registration. They accompany them to visit the city. One to two weeks, they accompany them for the modality of their residence permit. All this means that our university gives special treatment to foreign students so that they never feel out of place. And throughout the year, we have cultural activities to integrate students into clubs. There is inter-culturality, the exchange of culture between all 18 countries in addition to Morocco.

With the representation of the university in Mali, what are the projects for our country?

The representation of our university in Mali has several missions supported by the university.

The first mission is to watch over the gathering of former Malian winners. And why not create an office of the Association of former Malian winners.

The 2nd mission is to ensure the placement and internships of new students who will graduate.

The 3rd mission is to seek to forge several partnerships with government and private bodies in Mali.

The 4th mission which is natural is to look for other students to come and enroll with us. I would like to point out that Mrs. Ilham and Aziz are there with the doors open to welcome all the students. Either the students or the parents will contact them to find out how to register.

Then there is the social aspect of our university. We discussed it with Ms. Ilham. Our university can help in a social context through its foundation for specific social actions studied by the representation in Mali.

Are there many former Malian winners?

The former winners for 25 to 26 years number approximately 500 to 600. Today, they operate in several sectors of activity. They are in business. There are some who are bank managers, directors of companies and enterprises that work in the public sector. I would like to point out that the diploma issued by our university is a diploma recognized by the Moroccan State and throughout the world. This means that a graduate of our university can work with his degree in the public sector as he can work in the private sector.

Did the first meetings of your stay go well?

Yes. Our first meetings went very well. The meeting with the Minister of Higher Education was a very nice meeting with a pleasant welcome, promises of support, follow-up within the framework of the partnership, whether with the ministry or with other partners. We are happy, we greatly appreciated the minister’s flexibility, his intellectual side. By exchanging with him, he gave us some historical elements in relation to Morocco’s relationship with Mali that we were not aware of. It is thanks to the Ambassador that we obtained the audience with the Minister of Higher Education. We have been partners with the Ministry of Higher Education since 2017. With the minister, we will take stock of this partnership and talk about the prospects.

Can we say that the University of Agadir will be a springboard for strengthening cooperation between Morocco and Mali?

Yes ! You know, everything that happens in the context of education, teaching can only be a springboard. The first day when we received scholarship students from Mali, it was with a view to developing the engineering sector. This means that it is the orientations of the State and the Malian government to send their students to study for this sector because there is a need. Certainly, the government of Mali has a need, an orientation in this direction, it is to develop this engineering sector. And at the university level, we have a polytechnic school which trains for this engineering sector on several specialties, namely electrical engineering, engineering in electrical engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, food engineering, computer engineering . We have 6 sectors that go in this direction. So, during the discussion with the Minister of Higher Education, we will see how we can meet certain needs of Mali.

We adapt to these needs, to these situations, to favorably meet the needs of Mali.

In Morocco, there are several universities. What is the particularity of your university to be able to encourage Malian students to enroll there?

Thank you for such an interesting and important question. First, our university is recognized for excellence. We enroll excellent students and bring out excellent graduates.

Second, there is the seriousness of our university. We are a serious university that has a commitment, a pledge to all students and parents who enroll their children at the university level. Third, we are a university with great experience. We are not a university that dates back to yesterday or the day before. We are a university that dates back 33 years, so 33 years of experience, 33 years of excellence, 33 years of seriousness. This is nothing at all.

Fourth, we are a civic university. We can help in a social sense. We have citizenship which is studied at the level of our university. We are a pioneering university in Morocco in the context of higher education. In a word, we are a university of excellence, experience, seriousness and citizenship.

Your final word?

I would like to thank the Malian authorities. I would like to thank His Excellency the Ambassador of Morocco to Mali who opened his doors to us. I would like to thank our representatives on site, Ms. Ilham and Mr. Aziz, who are making an extraordinary effort. We are in Morocco, they are here in Bamako. And God knows how much they run left and right to achieve good results. We would like to thank you too, through you, the entire Malian press. We say to our Malian brothers and sisters that Morocco remains a partner country which opens its doors widely to manage together this partnership whose good is to watch over the good future of Malian youth.

Directed by Kassoum Théra

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