July 2, 2021 

The Internationalisation of Higher Education in the Mediterranean, Current and Prospective Trends. A study launched by the UfM and conducted by UNIMED: report available


Addressing regional needs of Higher Education Institutions and with the aim of paving the way for a change of scale in the support mechanisms for Higher Education sectors in the Mediterranean, the Union for the Mediterranean launched a study, conducted by UNIMED, aimed at being an effective tool for policymakers and other stakeholders. The study aims to investigate the internationalisation of higher education, to identify obstacles and challenges, to outline transferable inspiring practices and finally to make a series of recommendations for the Union for the Mediterranean to foster regional integration.  The study investigates the internationalisation of higher education in 10 countries – Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia – focusing especially on resources and opportunities available at the national and regional levels. The study offers for each target country a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, along with specific recommendations and a theme-based roadmap. 

This study addresses mobility and cross-border education trends in the Euro-Mediterranean region, with special emphasis on academic exchange, involving students, scholars and administrative staff, as well as on the strategic international partnerships across the globe. As for the methodology, a survey investigating teaching and administrative staff as well as student mobility was submitted to a sample of universities representing the 10 target countries; further interviews with international and regional stakeholders were conducted, focus groups were established, involving the universities covered by the study and a thorough desk research was undertaken.

As a result, the report presents a detailed national context analysis for each of the 10 target countries, a focus on mobility flows in the region, complemented by a wide range of inspiring and scalable practices, as well as an overview of the role played by regional organisations in providing opportunities, creating synergies and making resources available for the higher education institutions in the Mediterranean. Country-specific recommendations were designed in order to address national challenges. At the end of the research and consultative process, a number of common themes for the Euro-Mediterranean region were also identified, in relation to which additional regional recommendations were drafted, with the aim of enhancing the internationalisation of higher education in the region. In this sense, the Union for the Mediterranean has a pivotal role for the construction of a political and dialogue space in the Mediterranean, while UNIMED, as an independent network, has played the role of the connector between universities, institutional players and regional organizations.

Carrying out a study on the internationalisation of university systems during the dramatic times of COVID-19 was not easy. The whole system of our EuroMediterranean academic relations has been strongly challenged. Despite that, the commitment of all the universities, academic and governmental institutions, and all the participants in the study, showed us that international cooperation cannot and must not be stopped. We are still far from the finish line and the Report has the ambitious goal to represent a building block for those willing to further explore the issue of Internationalisation of Higher Education in the Mediterranean. 

The study was officially launched in a dedicated event on June 22, 2021, attended by more than 150 participants from more than 30 countries worldwide. The full Report is available here.

The recording of the event is available here.