The new campus will accommodate 50 students and will operate from the premises of the American School of Tangier, the oldest American school in Morocco.
“No US university, to my knowledge, has done this before”
UNE students will spend a semester studying the same curriculum in Tangier as they do in the US. The tentative autumn curriculum consists of 11 courses including Organic Chemistry, Physics, and Spanish and Arabic language courses.
“Since our curriculum is heavy on lab-based sciences and we wanted our students to be located in downtown Tangier, we thought it was best to build our own labs, classrooms, and dorms, according to UNE standards,” Professor Anouar Majid, Vice President for Global Affairs and General Manager of the UNE Morocco Project, told The PIE News.
“No US university, to my knowledge, has done this before because students in the sciences don’t go away for a semester and take their lab-based science courses in non-English-speaking environments,” he explained.
Majid, a Tangier native, said that despite facing some scepticism when he proposed the project during the Arab Spring, “The UNE administration and trustees turned out to be farseeing and we succeeded in getting a unanimous vote of approval.”
“That was an amazing, heart-warming moment — proof that my fellow Americans are as open to the world today as they were during the 18th-century revolution that gave us our independence,” he said.
Majid said that there is “no better time” to open a campus in Tangier, the geographical and cultural “meeting point of various civilisations”.
Morocco has invested heavily in its infrastructure to position itself as a gateway to North Africa and Europe, including a five-year, AED7.663 billion (US$2.1bn) economic development effort in Tangier launched last year.
Speaking at the ceremony, UNE President Danielle Ripich praised the inaugural class as “pioneers”.
“UNE’s commitment to advance the internationalisation of higher education, create truly global citizens, and open new windows of opportunity not only for UNE students, but also the entire state of Maine,” she said.