The Internationalisation of Higher Education in the Mediterranean: Students Mobility and the Role of International Networks



  • Itaf Ben Abdallah, Union for the Mediterranean
  • Prof. Naouel Abdellatif Mami, Ph.D., Sétif 2 University
  • Rima Mattar, Holy Spirit University of Kaslik
  • Marcello Scalisi, Mediterranean Universities Union (Unimed)


One of the barriers to internationalisation in the South-Med region cited the most, is the lack of mutual knowledge. In the best case, it is interesting for European countries to attract students from the South, but it is not interesting to send their students there. This kind of Western-centric approach is still a barrier, despite the vast majority of students surveyed by UNIMED in the report "The Internationalisation of Higher Education in the Mediterranean", revelead that European countries remain the most attractive ones. In this presentation we will focus on the data collected on students mobility by presenting the results of the survey addressed to students coming from 10 target countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia) and that allowed us to gather 3,280 answers, of which 523 came from students who engaged in mobility during the last academic years. We will report about obstacles to mobility, reasons for mobility and also take into account recommendations made by the students to improve mobility. In this scenario, we will lately focus on how international and regional networks can facilitate mobility first, but generally speaking the whole internationalization process. Regional networks can play a decisive role in further promoting the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Barcelona process, which have so far guaranteed a unique regional cooperation framework for the Mediterranean university, but have failed to solve many problems in the region.

The time has come to make room for the Mediterranean Generation, for it to express its potential beyond national borders and cultural barriers and forge a new idea of Mediterranean.


Itaf Ben Abdallah

Senior Advisor for Higher Education and Research Division, Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Secretariat
Ms. Ben Abdallah is a Tunisian diplomat with a juridical formation. Before taking on his role at UfM, as responsible of the Higher Education and Research Division, she was in charge in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tunisia of multilateral files such as WTO, WIPO, FAO. She was also in charge of bilateral relations between Tunisia and several countries and was assigned to Tunisian Embassy in Cairo.

Prof. Naouel Abdellatif Mami, Ph.D.

Vice Rector in Charge of the External Relations and Cooperation, University Mohamed Lamine Debaghine -Sétif2, Sétif (Algeria)
Professor Naouel Abdellatif Mami is an Algerian Ph.D. holder in Educational Psychology and Teaching Foreign Languages. She is a full professor and Vice Rector in Charge of the External Relations and Cooperation at Sétif 2 University in Algeria. A Higher Education Reform Expert, she has participated and coordinated a number of international Research projects with the Council of Europe, the UN, the EU, UNIMED and the UNESCO. She is also author of a number of scientific publications.

Ass. Prof. Rima Mattar

Deputy President for International Affairs and Global Initiatives, Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK)

  • Member of the USEK Executive Committee
  • Member of USEK Academic and Research Council
  • Chair of the Planning and Evaluation Committee for NECHE Accreditation
  • Member of USEK Crisis Management Committee


  • Leading USEK comprehensive internationalization strategy
  • Developing new international partnerships and programs
  • Raising international awareness and global engagement among USEK community members
  • Providing peer reviews and internationalization evaluation to universities overseas as an external expert | Maryland University (Maryland) and Grinnell College (Iowa)
  • Reviewing and evaluating conference papers at international organization such as QS World University Rankings and NAFSA.

Ranking and Global Reputation

  • Leading USEK world and regional ranking roadmap
  • Member of various committees at the QS ranking agency for the preparation of ranking events in the Middle East, the review of international speakers’ papers and the evaluation of speakers’ presentations

International Projects and Programs

  • Designing grant proposals in various fields related to higher education
  • Coordinating several EU and USAID projects such as, the Higher Education Capacity Development Program (HECD), Student Engagement, Empowerment, and Representation in Lebanese Universities (StEER-Leb), LEBPass for the Lebanese Diploma Supplement …

Marcello Scalisi

Director, Mediterranean Universities Union (Unimed)
Marcello Scalisi is the Director of UNIMED – Mediterranean Universities Union, a network of 141 Universities from 23 countries of the Mediterranean Region – since 2008. He holds a degree in Historical Sciences and in International Cooperation at University of Roma Tre. He started working at UNIMED in 1998 as project manager and moved gradually to the coordination of UNIMED’s funded projects. UNIMED is nowadays a permanent stakeholder of the European Commission.

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