© Guardian photo
UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz
A recent trip to Egypt and Turkey was about establishing relationships in those countries, says UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz.
Abd-El-Aziz returned to P.E.I. this week from the trip that saw him meet with government officials, business leaders and representatives from post-secondary schools.
In an interview with The Guardian, Abd-El-Aziz said UPEI has a great reputation outside of Canada.
“We’re a small institution with a great quality of education,” he said.
Abd-El-Aziz travelled with Premier Robert Ghiz for part of the trip and said having him there was essential to showing that the province was interested in post-secondary education.
“I think that this was demonstrated very well and it was well received,” he said.
In total, Abd-El-Aziz spent about six days in Egypt and two more in Turkey as part of the trip.
What came out of it were discussions about new programs and ways for students from abroad to get part of their education at UPEI and eventually graduate with a degree from the Island university.
Abd-El-Aziz, who is from Egypt, said he understands the country well.
But David Drake, the Canadian ambassador to Egypt, also helped facilitate some of the meetings and Abd-El-Aziz said he was a catalyst in some of the relationships UPEI was trying to build.
“I can’t say enough about him,” Abd-El-Aziz said.
The ultimate goal of those relationships was to improve student and faculty mobility between the two countries, Abd-El-Aziz said.
In demonstrating some of the work that has already been done, Abd-El-Aziz used the example of 11 doctoral students who spent four months studying at UPEI.
“This was a very, very strong interaction,” he said.
Abd-El-Aziz said it’s important for students to see the world and learn from different cultures to experience different perspectives.
“What you learn outside the classroom is as important as what you learn inside the classroom,” he said.
With Turkey playing an important role in the region’s economy, Abd-El-Aziz said he met with university officials there too, along with a representative from the Turkish business council.
And although he’s back in P.E.I., Abd-El-Aziz said he’s going to spend more time solidifying the relationships he built during his trip.
“There is huge opportunity,” he said.
An attempt to speak to Ghiz about his trip was unsuccessful.