‘British universities need to stop viewing the Arab world as a source of high net worth students to supplement their domestic income,’ says Professor Aldwyn Cooper, Vice Chancellor of Regent’s University London.
Speaking to an invited audience of 250 at the ‘Arab Women of the Year Awards 2016’ held on 1st December at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel London, Professor Cooper said that the UK was missing opportunities to fully engage with the heritage and knowledge offered by Arab countries.
He continued: “British universities must do much more to form genuine partnerships with universities and businesses in the Arab world. We shouldn’t view these countries as merely convenient places for profitable transnational educational establishments.
“Many people think about the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia and oil. However, there are 22 Arabic-speaking countries and cultural centres between North Africa, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.
“The excellent contribution made by these important nations in fields such as education, agriculture, science, design and literature is growing all the time. Further, supported by their rulers and governments, the input from Arab women has expanded substantially in all sectors including media, sports, education, business, medicine, architecture and entrepreneurism.
“The British government must recognise the tremendous social value that international students and academics bring to Britain, and make sure that the UK stays open for education, business and in every other field.”
Supporting the Arab Women of the Year Awards Regent’s was joined by event partners the Arab British Business Association, London & Partners, Watches of Switzerland, Y Asset Management, Bicester Village, Miller Harris and JLL.
Some 13 Awards were made during the evening occasion, recognising outstanding Arab women who have made their mark on the international stage and contributed immeasurably to public life. Categories included Business, Lifetime Achievement, Music, Social Leadership, Media and Community Awareness.
Muzoon Rakan Alemellehan, an 18 year-old Syrian Refugee, collected the ‘Young Education Activist’ Award. After arriving in Jordan in 2013 and living in a tent, Muzoon enrolled in school to catch up with the academic year. She then started a campaign to encourage education amongst other refugees in cooperation with ‘Save the Children.’ She now lives in Britain.
She commented: “I am proud to accept this award as a Muslim and Syrian refugee. My journey started when I became a refugee in Jordan, before which I had placed all of my dreams and hopes in education, because I believe that without this I could not do anything.
“I was shocked when I saw so many people my own age who did not think that education was important and felt it was my duty to change this. We don’t want to be victims and today I am fighting for children all over the world.”