Higher Education in the COVID Era – EMUNI’s annual conference and governing bodies meeting

EMUNI’s annual conference and governing bodies meeting, which was held between the 13 and 15 of September, had the ambition to reflect upon the existential challenges that have emerged in the past 18 months of the Covid- 19 pandemic. 

The conference allowed all participants to provide an overview of the efforts related to digital transformation, internationalisation and regional integration. It was an occasion to discuss which institutional and policy approaches will shape the future of the higher education sector in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

We were pleased with the success of the conference and governing bodies’ meetings. For many of us, this was one of the first occasions to finally meet colleagues face-to-face again after the many closures across the region, which affected cooperation.

For three days, we were in the condition to reflect on the performance and priorities of EMUNI.

We are glad to report that the conference hosted 26 speakers from 15 countries, 24 of whom present on-site and 4 remotely. This for us is a success as it reflects EMUNI’s constant effort to bring together the region and foster dialogue between professionals in the higher education sector.

We invite everyone to download the conference report and we look forward to next year to repeat the success of the 2021 conference.



09.00 – 15.00: Management Board retreat (Tartini hotel, Piran)

15.00 – 18.00: 53rd session of the Management Board (Tartini hotel, Piran)

19.00 – 21.00: Dinner for Management Board members (courtesy of EMUNI @ Pirat restaurant, Piran)

09.00 – 12.30: Meeting of the Senate (EMUNi premises, Piran)

12.30 – 13.30: Light Lunch for MB, Senate and GA members (courtesy of EMUNI @ EMUNi premises, Piran)

13.30 – 16.00: General Assembly Meeting

16.30 – 17.30: Boosting Active Citizenship Through Culture, co-organised with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Slovenia co-organised with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Slovenia (Light house, Izola)

Introductory remarks by Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry, EMUNI President

Prof. Mohamed Yousry Hashem, President of Heliopolis University, Egypt

Ms. Tala Al Sayyed, EUNIC Jordan Project Manager, Jordan

Assoc. Prof. Alenka Fikfak, Faculty of Architecture Ljubljana, Slovenia

Mr. Ali Khair, Cultural Manager at French Institute in Jordan

Dr. Jelena Ristić Trajković, Faculty of Architecture Belgrade, Serbia

17.30 – 18.00: Conference registration (Belvedere hotel, Izola)

18.00 – 19.00: Reception (Belvedere hotel, Izola)

19.00 – 19.30: Conference Opening Speeches

Prof. Dr. Michele Gendreau-Massaloux, Chairperson of the Management Board, Euro-Mediterranean University, Slovenia

Ms. Itaf Ben Abdallah, Head of Higher Education and research division of the Union for Mediterranean

Mr. Gašper Dovžan, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Dr. Franc Janžekovič, Director-General, Higher Education Directorate, Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, Slovenia

Prof. Hassan Nadir Kheirallah, Professor, Alexandria University, Egypt

Prof. Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry, President, Euro-Mediterranean University, Slovenia

19.30 – 21.00 Dinner (Courtesy of the UfM)

(Belvedere hotel, Izola)

08.30 – 09.30: Registration and Coffee

09.30 – 09.45 Keynote Speech

H.E. Amb. Nasser Kamel, Secretary General of the Union for Mediterranean

09.45 – 10.45: Panel 1

Towards a Euro-Med Higher Education and Research Area

How big is the divide among the institutions and countries, after the height of the Covid-19 crisis? What are the benefits of the collective crisis on the region as a whole? How can institutions that are lagging behind in internationalisation be reinforced? How are technology transfer and cross-border research collaborations benefitting from the trend of internationalization, in comparison to education? How can skills to participate more equally within international research projects be built? How far does internationalization contribute to the cohesive Euro-Mediterranean partnership?


H.E. Hatem Atallah, Co—Chairperson, EMUNI Management Board, Euro-Mediterranean University and former Ambassador, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tunisia

Prof. Amine Bensaid, President of the Al-Akhwayn University, Morocco (online)

Prof. Mouïn Hamze, Secretary General, National Council for Scientific Research, Lebanon

Prof. Hany Mahfouz Helal, President of Senghor University, Alexandria, Egypt

Prof. Michele Gendreau-Massaloux, Chairperson of the Management Board, Euro-  Mediterranean University, Slovenia

 Prof. Dušan Lesjak, Professor, International School for Social and Business Studies, Slovenia


Prof. Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry, President of the Euro-Mediterranean University

10.45 – 11.30: Coffee Break (courtesy of the UfM)

11.30 – 13.00: Panel 2

Internationalisation of HE Institutions

How relevant is the goal of internationalization in higher education? How has the pandemic, with the related increase in virtual exchanges and absence of travel, actually impacted internationalization? What is the potential of blended learning, virtual mobility, internationalisation of curricula, double degree programmes and enrolment of international students in today’s strategies for internationalization; is traditionally physical mobility losing its role? What do meaningful and ambitious institutional strategies in the aftermath of the pandemic consist of? Are they inclusive of different staff groups, such as management, students, teaching, research and administrative staff? Is Erasmus+ (still) the central regional collaboration programme?


Ms. Armela Dino, Science policy analyst, Ministry of Science and Innovation, Spain

Mr. Juan Rayon Gonzalez, President of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN), Belgium

Mr. Božidar Grigić, Head of Tertiary Sector, Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for Mobility and European Educational and Training Programmes, Slovenia

Assoc. Prof. Karim Moustaghfir, Associate  Professor, Al Akhawayn University, Morocco          (online)

Dr. Marcello Scalisi, Director of the Mediterranean Universities Union (UNIMED), Italy

Prof. Rouchdy Zahran, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Al Alamein International University, Egypt


Prof. Nada Trunk Širca Professor, Euro-Mediterranean University, University of Primorska and International School for Social and Business Studies, Slovenia

13.00 – 14.30: Lunch (courtesy of the UfM)

14.30 – 16.00: Panel 3 

Digital Transformation

How different were the adjustment strategies to the long-lasting absence of face-to-face teaching? What are some of the good practices of use of ICT and methods that the pandemic has accelerated and are here to stay? What are the worrying impacts of the uncritical use of ICT? What are the key challenges for the future of digital transformation?


Mr. Andrés Archila, Al Innovation Hub Officer, Ulysseus European University, Finland

Assoc. Prof. David B. DeVallence, Vice-Rector for Internationalisation, University of Primorska, Slovenia

Dr. Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Research fellow, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (online)

Dr. Maysoun Ibrahim, Member of directors of the Higher Council for Innovation and Excellence, Palestine

Mr. Surendra Naidoo, Vice President, Wiley International Education Services, United States (online)

Prof. Hani Sewilam, Rectors Delegate for African Countries and Managing Director of the UNESCO Chair at the RWTH Aachen, Germany and Professor, American University in Cairo, Egypt


Dr. Jerneja Penca, Head of Academic Affairs, Euro-Mediterranean University

16.00 – 16.30: Closing Remarks

Prof. Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry, President, Euro-Mediterranean University