St John’s hosts Tunisia–UK Joint Commission for Higher Education and Scientific Research Bilateral Meeting

Date 24 March 2023

Professor Mohamed-Salah Omri coordinated the visit of a high-level Tunisia–UK delegation to Oxford in March.

UK-Tunisia Joint Commission for Higher Education and Scientific Research

On 1 March 2023, Professor Mohamed-Salah Omri, Tutorial Fellow at St John’s College and Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES), coordinated a visit to Oxford by a high-level delegation from the Tunisia–UK Joint Commission for Higher Education and Scientific Research. The Joint Commission was founded in 2018 to bring together a range of initiatives in the areas of higher education and research, and to empower a step change in the relations between Tunisia and the UK in these areas. The Commission includes representatives from the government and universities of both countries. The work of the Commission has focused on the mobility of staff and students, quality assurance in higher education, English as a foreign language, employability and research exchange. It has also facilitated setting up a venue for Oxford students of Arabic to spend their Year Abroad in Tunisia, a programme that has been very successful and that is now in its third year.

Professor Omri is a founding member of the Commission. The delegation that visited St John’s included Professor Moncef Boukthir (Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research), Mr Malek Kochlef (Director General of International Cooperation), Professor Jilani Lamloumi (General Director of Higher Education), and Professor Jouhaina Gherib, (President, University of Manouba) together with the UK Ambassador to Tunisia, Helen Winterton, and Mr Khaled Bargaoui, Education Project Manager at the UK Embassy. The Commission was welcomed to Oxford by Professor Dame Sue Black (President of St John’s College), Professor David Rechter (Chair of AMES), Professor David Gann (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Development and External Affairs), and Mr Andrew Brown of the International Office. The delegation briefed university and St John’s College members on the work of the Commission and explored opportunities for further development of relations between both the University of Oxford and St John’s College with Tunisian universities at all levels. The delegation also met with nine Oxford undergraduates who have participated in the Arabic Tunisia programme.

Professor Omri’s work in this area arises from his interest in UK–Tunisia relations and the relationship between universities and society in post-authoritarian settings. As a focus of his research and outreach activities, this has resulted in three edited books and several conferences and colloquia, and an Impact Case Study for the Research Excellence Framework 2021. The books are: University and Society within the Context of the Arab Revolutions and New Humanism (Tunis: Rosa Luxembourg Foundation, 2016); The Movement of People and Ideas between Britain and the Maghreb (Zaghouan: FTRSI, 2003); Britain and the Maghreb: The State of Research and Cultural Contacts ((Zaghouan: FTRSI, 2002).

University of Oxford and UK–Tunisia Commission for Higher Education and Scientific Research Bilateral Meeting, 1 March 2023