With the Egyptian government’s dedicated efforts to enhance the education sector, and in line with the state’s 2030 vision focusing on improving the quality of education, The University of Hertfordshire – GAF plays a significant role in the implementation of this vision. Professor Vincent Emery, President of UH-GAF shares valuable insights on how the university will be a valuable addition to the education system and speaks about the university’s strategy in creating a model that brings the knowledge and experience of the international education system.
Since it is our first time meeting you personally, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, and about the scientific research papers that you are most proud of?
It is a pleasure to meet you! My field of expertise is a little bit complicated, but I will try to simplify it. I am a virologist, which is the science of viruses. I have published over 225 research articles, reviews, and books, on solid organs, stem cell transplant and virology in Africa. Today, I live in Egypt, and act as the President of the University of Hertfordshire (UH-GAF) hosted by Global Academic Foundation, located in the New Administrative Capital. I’m extremely proud of my position, as I am committed to providing such a promising country as Egypt with access to the best educational facilities and services.
As an established virology professional with an impressive professional bio - in your opinion - when will we go back to “normal”? Do you believe this pandemic will end soon?
It is difficult to estimate a specific time that the pandemic might end. For instance, although the SARS Coronavirus-2 may never be eradicated entirely, it doesn’t mean that we will never be able to contain and curb infections in the future. A key aspect of working towards controlling the virus’s spread is vaccination, as it builds herd immunity in populations and so reducing the ability of the virus to spread in communities. Moreover, the precautionary measures that most countries are currently implementing – with the support of international organizations, such as the World Health Organization – will play a large part in helping us return to “normal.”
What is your opinion on education in Egypt? How has that formed your vision for UH-GAF as an educational institution?
Egypt’s educational system is large, complex, and has its fair share of challenges. The government is relentlessly working to improve its structure. One of the main challenges that the country is facing is convincing parents, students, and teachers that education is not just about taking exams in order to obtain a certificate! Rather, education should revolve around the development of a curriculum that balances teaching, self-reflective learning and life-long learning skills, whilst providing knowledge, confidence, and employability skills relevant to students graduating into this dynamic fast-paced world. At UH-GAF we work towards striking this balance.
The Egyptian Government is working hard on enhancing the education sector, what does UH-GAF specifically offer to the Egyptian community? For instance, where do you stand among the competition, especially now that the market offers multidisciplinary programs and academic curricula to prospective students?
Institutions in the Egyptian education system seem to be open to adapting their educational curricula to meet the needs of the modern economy. However, at UH-GAF we offer a wide-range of learning skills, scientific research and academic knowledge for our students. Moreover, we are committed to building an inclusive student body with people from all educational backgrounds.
We focus on teaching our students the competencies required for a successful career in a variety of fields, including Physiotherapy, Pharmacy, Business Administration, Mass Communication, Engineering, Computer Science and the Creative Arts.
Our MPharm program, for instance, is the first UK pharmacy program offered in Egypt in which students get to graduate with a Master’s degree from the UK, which will allow them to work in Egypt. Similarly, our physiotherapy program is the first UK recognized physiotherapy program within the region.
We also offer subjects directed towards preparing our students to adapt to the technological development of the modern world, such as Artificial Intelligence. Students get to study the analysis, design and construction of knowledge-based and expert systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning and robotics, and systems based around the use of neural networks. UH-GAF’s offering of such subjects align closely with Egypt’s 2030 Vision, which aims to promote technological innovation.
What are the values that you believe UH-GAF can add to the Egyptian youth?
At UH-GAF, we combine skills and knowledge that thoroughly prepare and empower our students for careers that will benefit society, foster their innate creativity and knowledge, and contribute to the sustainable development of their surroundings. These are the core values of UH-GAF, and this is what we are implementing in Egypt.
UH builds its curricula in partnership with industry employers, and it prioritizes placements, internship opportunities and career development services as a core service to its students. As a result, the graduates’ employability rates of the University of Hertfordshire UK is 96.5%, and we have seen many take opportunities at the several multinational companies such as Microsoft, BMW, GSK and AstraZeneca, among others.
Would you mind describing your journey from University College London, one of the UK’s most prestigious universities, to leading an ambitious educational institution such as UH-GAF in Egypt – What challenges did you encounter? What milestones did you celebrate? What do you consider your most outstanding contribution to UH-GAF?
My time at University College London (UCL) was transformative, and within my multiple roles I was given the opportunity to grow as a professor and educator. I was a Professor of Virology, then a Pro-Provost responsible for developing strategic opportunities in Africa and the Middle East, and also occupied the position of Vice Head of the Graduate School.
These positions allowed me to foster my ability to identify strategic opportunities, and that is why I joined UH-GAF Egypt. I believe that in my current position, I am able to draw upon all my previous experiences to create a unique model for UH-GAF’s development. I am extremely optimistic about the next few years working within the UK’s leading business-facing university, and harnessing the potential of such a promising country as Egypt.
As for my contribution to UH-GAF, nothing would be more fulfilling and gratifying than the knowledge that we are providing Egyptian youth with the opportunity to participate in the delivery in Egypt if a comprehensive range of multidisciplinary programs and specializations.
How would you describe your relationship with the students? What are your favorite hobbies?
As president, it is my responsibility to promote growth within the university. As a result, I always listen closely to the students’ feedback and needs.
I believe the educational process starts at the very top, which is why I feel a personal responsibility to convey the core values of UH-GAF to students. In order to maintain link between the President and both staff and students at UH-GAF I publish a monthly President’s Newsletter which have covered a range of topics from student feedback, the built environment through to the importance of local, regional and global partnerships,
As for my hobbies, I really enjoy listening, composing and performing music and also dabble in painting. In the UK I am also a bellringer. All of these help me to broaden my horizons and provide a healthy work-life balance. I have always felt it is a very nurturing hobby that allows widens my horizons and expands my knowledge on a variety of different topics.
Egypt is characterized by its young, energetic population. How do you motivate them to raise the bar and explore new opportunities?
Egypt’s youth represent a huge percentage of the country’s population. The opportunities that these young Egyptians have are boundless, especially now that they are constantly exposed to examples of Egyptians to aspire to, such as Mohamed Salah; who has proved that Egyptian ambition can be limitless. Our role at UH-GAF is to provide this generation with the opportunities to experience a UK education without the need to go abroad.
Finally, what is your advice to the Egyptian students?
Aim high and work hard to achieve your goals - even if they seem unrealistic. In today’s world there are no limits to what a person can accomplish. Focus on your own development, nurture your knowledge and skills and always have fun in whatever you do. These values are the cornerstone of our beliefs at UH-GAF Egypt.