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Hakima Fassi Fihri - "We don't open a curriculum unless we know it meets a demand of the job market."

Director of International Relations and Partnerships at the International University of Rabat discusses significance of institution's work

Hakima Fassi Fihri at Learning from the Past: Promoting Pluralism and Countering Extremism

The International University of Rabat (UIR), Morocco, has become known for developing a model of innovative teaching, renowned for its professionalism and rigor at a national and international level. During the Salzburg Global session, Learning from the Past: Promoting Pluralism and Countering Extremism, Hakima Fassi Fihri, Director of International Relations and Partnerships at UIR, explained what role she felt the institution played.

Figures obtained by the World Bank in 2014 indicated 20.2 per cent of the youth labor force in Morocco were unemployed. Fihri says this remains an “important issue”, one in which institutions like UIR are looking to address. This unemployment rate, however, is set against a backdrop of an increasingly dynamic business environment in Morocco. 

Fihri suggests academic programs in some universities have failed to keep up with a “shifting” job market. At UIR, however, this isn’t the case. Fihri says, “At UIR, the curriculum that we offer at Rabat is designed to fit the needs of the job market in Morocco. This means we don’t open a curriculum unless we know it meets a demand of the job market.”

UIR was the first university to be set up as part of a partnership between the state and the private sector in the higher education field. It offers a multidisciplinary education where language learning is considered an integral part of education. Fihri says, “[Languages] are very important to us - students study in French and English.” 

This, combined with mandatory internships on all degrees, semesters spent abroad, and international students coming from partner universities, enables students to receive a well-rounded education. Fihri says, “Being multilingual and having work experience, within and outside Morocco, makes a huge difference to your employability.”

Graduates are being offered opportunities to find a jobs within the first few months, according to Fihri. She says, “We give them better opportunities because we innovate our curriculums. We don’t just use the traditional way of teaching. We also add obligatory internships throughout their degrees. Internships are used as a credit activity. In masters and bachelors (courses), they must complete them. You learn much more than what you would through the classroom alone when you do an internship.” 

Fihri says she believes in the value of academic diplomacy, the capability of universities to foster dialogue across geographic, cultural and religious boundaries. By working with institutions across the world, and facilitating dialogue between these cultures, Fihri believes UIR is helping to change people’s stereotypes about Morocco and the region itself.

She says, “I believe in academic diplomacy, which means universities play a role in international relations. So, it is important. We have not only a duty to educate in terms of academia, but also educate in terms of behavior and critical thinking for our students, to give them [the] ability to question their certainties and their beliefs, and question and debate everything.”


Hakima Fassi Fihri was a participant at the Salzburg Global session Learning from the Past: Promoting Pluralism and Countering Extremism is part of the multi-year series Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention. The series is being hosted in partnership with The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and with support from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/564  

17.01.2017 Category: FACES OF LEADERSHIP, JUSTICE, GENOCIDE PREVENTION
Chris Hamill-Stewart