Acting on behalf of HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, Chair of Princess Sumaya University for Technology’s Board of Trustees, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Dr. Adel Al-Twaisi, inaugurated an international academic conference backed by the Eurasian Silk Road Universities Consortium entitled "Student Cultural Exchange between Arabs and the World". The conference was held at the PSUT campus with the participation of 50 heads of universities from Jordan, Palestine, Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China.
In a speech delivered on behalf of HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, Dr. Al-Twaisi said that the holding of this conference was of special importance, since, on the one hand, its itinerary was full of topics of interest to all parties involved, and addressed issues that face us all, and, on the other hand, such topics and issues fall within the wider set of objectives that the Eurasian Silk Road Universities Consortium (ESRUC) seeks to achieve. The Minister emphasized that the aim of holding this conference was to exchange experiences and to benefit from the expertise of the member universities of this strong network, especially in the fields of education and scientific research, in addition to the exchange of faculty members and students, which will contribute to the enrichment of the expertise to be found in Jordanian universities, as well as the promotion of higher education in the Kingdom.
Dr. Twaisi also praised PSUT’s excellent reputation, which he called a true source of pride, gained thanks to the outstanding list of achievements it has made in all spheres thus far in its scientific and academic career. He added that the University’s excellence was evident through its participation in numerous European projects and its determination to expand its global network through agreements with major international universities, especially with regard to international joint programs which have earned it an outstanding reputation both in the region and globally. He said that, In light of these fine achievements, Princess Sumaya University for Technology fully deserved to act as sponsor of this conference and venue for its most important events.
Dr. Twaisi reviewed the role of Jordan's higher education sector in bringing about comprehensive development at various levels and in a range of fields. He said that recent years had seen remarkable progress in terms of the diversity of curricula and teaching and learning patterns which control both quality and quantity in order to maintain the bright image of education, higher education and its outputs. He pointed to the fact that, at the present time, higher education is witnessing, as part of the ongoing work on the implementation of the National Human Resources Development Strategy for the years 2016 – 2025, developments that demand a reevaluation of existing aspirations, increased efforts in identifying current challenges, and responses to the demands of this new stage, on two levels. Firstly, how to keep up with academic and technological development, and secondly, how to adapt academic programs to meet changing labor market requirements to arrive at an advanced higher education system, capable of producing graduates possessed of a rounded, polished personality characterized by a sense of responsibility as citizens and a genuine feeling of loyalty to their country. These graduates should be capable of keeping abreast of knowledge developments in their fields of specialization to meet society’s current and future needs in correlation with national economic and social development, and be capable of competing at the regional and international levels.
The Turkish Ambassador in Amman, Mr. Murat Karagöz, praised the joint cooperation between the universities of the Silk Road countries, which includes the exchange programs for both university students and faculty members, in addition to exchange of academic and technological expertise, and the establishment of joint scientific and research programs and projects. He highlighted the depth and strength of Jordanian-Turkish relations in various fields, especially in the field of education and scientific cultural exchange, and expressed the intention of extending the bridges of scientific and cultural cooperation between the Turkish universities and Princess Sumaya University of Technology. Mr. Karagöz also praised the role of PSUT, its international reputation and its selection as host of the conference which brought together 50 universities from countries all over the world. He stated that this reflected the keenness of HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and the University’s administration to facilitate cultural and knowledge exchange between Turkish and Jordanian educational institutions.
The President of PSUT, Prof. Mashhoor Al-Refai, welcomed the audience and reviewed the University's vision, mission and goals. He pointed out in his speech that since its establishment, the University had sought the path of creativity, leadership and excellence. It has chalked up an impressive list of outstanding achievements, thanks to Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan who has provided a fine role model in dedication and perseverance. Prof. Al-Refai shared some of the most outstanding accomplishments: In 2014, the University was awarded the Order of Independence, First Class by His Majesty the King for its excellent performance in the Information and Communications Technology and Business sectors. In 2011, the University took third place in the Microsoft Imagine Cup, making Jordan the first country in the Middle East to achieve that feat. During the last three years, the University has come first among all Jordanian universities in the general section of the University Proficiency Exam. It has also taken first place in the subject level for 82% of its programs. In 2016, students from the University ranked first in the Middle East and 8th in the world against 2000 teams in the IEEEXtreme Competition. In 2017, PSUT ranked first in the Middle East and 13th in the world against 3,350 teams in the same competition. In 2016, PSUT students received 8 of the top 10 prizes in the ACM programming competition in Jordan, including the first, second and third place. The University also won first place among the Jordanian universities and came fourth regionally in the ACM Arab World category of the competition held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in 2017.
Also, under an initiative of His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II, 4 PSUT students were among a total of 12 from different Jordanian universities who were selected for training in NASA laboratories during the years 2014-2017. In addition, two students from the University were among 4 Jordanian students selected as part of an initiative offered by the Crown Prince Foundation for training at Airbus. Recently, at the ACM - ICPC programming competition finals 2018, held in China, a team of PSUT students won first place and took the title of Champion of the Middle East and Africa. In 2013, the University obtained accreditation from the American organization ABET for the specializations of Electronic Engineering, Computer Engineering, Communications Engineering, and Computer Science, making PSUT the only university in Jordan to have received such accreditation for these programs.
Prof. Al-Refai expressed his thanks to Atatürk University, which leads ESRUC, for its selection of Princess Sumaya University for Technology to be the host of this conference entitled "Cultural Exchange between Arabs and the World". The choice was influenced by the University’s distinguished position at the level of international networking and European projects. The University participates in numerous projects, and one of its most prominent achievements in the international arena is the signing of 22 cultural exchange agreements under the Erasmus + program. PSUT is involved in EU-backed 36 projects, and is the Grant Holder for five of them. Prof. Al-Refai said that it was fortuitous that the conference was being held to discuss topics related to academic and research cooperation and student and cultural exchange, which are important elements of these European projects. He also mentioned the close ties with several Turkish universities, including the Middle East University in Ankara, Atatürk University, Anadolu University, Bilkent University in Ankara, Istanbul Şehir University. In conclusion, he thanked the participants of the conference, hoping that it would realize the visions and aspirations of the participants.
Prof. Ömer Çomakli, President of Atatürk University, Turkey, said that it had become of the utmost importance to invest in higher education in order to meet the challenges of the times and to become a partner in globalization, which has a positive affect on the university as a research institution, beginning with society to the economy, especially with the increasing political and economic pressures on the international community. In his speech, he called for international dialogue and joint cooperation to achieve societal justice.
Prof. Çomakli pointed out that Atatürk University’s vision is concerned with the future outlook on the international and Islamic stages. Due to the number of foreign students in Turkish universities, it has become essential to pay attention to the establishment of a strong research network, in addition to linking Muslim educational institutions with those in Europe.
It is worth mentioning that the principle idea behind ESRUC is to build an economic belt for those countries located along this road, which links China in the east to Europe in the west. The network derived its name from the historic Silk Road which existed 2,000 years ago. This road represents a historical symbol of cultural and spiritual interaction, since it played a prominent role in the prosperity of many civilizations. In order to embody this principle, ESRUC, led by Atatürk University, Turkey, focuses on the interests of higher education in the countries along the road through the establishment of joint academic conferences, cooperation in the field of scientific research and cultural exchanges for both researchers and students, in addition to trying to build strong economies in these countries. ESRUC currently comprises 250 universities representing more than 35 countries.
On the sidelines of the conference, 40 memorandums of understanding were signed between the participating universities.