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On Sunday, February 4th, 2018, Professor Maher Natsheh, Acting President of An-Najah, received a distinguished Japanese delegation at his office. The delegation included Ms. Rie Matsumoto, Commercial Attaché of the Embassy of Japan in Israel, Mr. Masahiro Matsui, Second Secretary of the Representative Office of Japan to Palestine, Ms. Tomomi Hirata, Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency – Palestine Office (JICA) and Mr. Ryo Saito, Senior Consultant at PADECO Tokyo, as well as Ms. Bissan Salman, Political Advisor to the Embassy of Japan and Ms. Asma Ibrahim, Economic Collaboration Officer at the Representative Office of Japan.

The delegation was received by Dr. Mohammad Al-Amleh, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Nidal Dwaikat, Deputy President for Planning, Development and Quality Affairs, Mrs. Sylvia Sedrak and Miss Aya Jaber from the International Office and Mrs. Shatha Jararaa from the PR Department at An-Najah.

The visit aimed at discussing possible means of mutual cooperation between the Japanese Government, universities, the private sector in Japan and their counterparts in Palestine. The delegation also wanted to learn about business development opportunities for Japanese companies, in in Palestine.

Prof. Natsheh started with a brief introduction of An-Najah history, students, staff, academic programmes and campuses. He talked in detail about the political and financial obstacles that higher education in Palestine faces, in terms of attracting international students and staff to Palestinian universities.

HHe added that the University mission is to provide high quality education, encourage scientific research projects and serve the Palestinian community. He also talked about the cooperation agreements the University has with a number of European and American universities, in terms of developing joint research projects and boosting student and staff exchange programmes. He then thanked the Japanese Government for supporting the Palestinian people and invited the delegation to expand cooperation in different fields.

Finally, he talked about the University's academic achievements, most important of which is being ranked the 1st Palestinian university, according to Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, and obtaining ABET accreditation for nine engineering programmes.

The delegation then headed to the New Campus where they met with a group of engineering and IT professors and representatives of local companies who work with An-Najah.

The delegation was introduced to the apprenticeship programmes that combine on-the-job training with academic instruction for students entering the workforce. The professors also talked about the companies' involvement in setting the university curricula, the problems faced when implementing graduates' startups and the obstacles surrounding intellectual property rights in Palestine.

The delegation, in turn, proposed a number of ideas regarding incubators, startups and apprenticeship programmes. One of the ideas was to invite the University professors to an event held in Jericho by the business sector in Japan. Ms. Matsumoto also suggested giving lectures on Japanese industries, business and culture.

At the end of the visit, the delegation was given a tour of the New Campus where they went to the Media Centre, the Faculty of Fine Arts Museum and the Korean Palestinian IT Institute of Excellence. There, they learned about the work of ASAL Technologies – An-Najah branch and the Business Startup Incubators Support (BSIS).

The delegation also met with a number of University students who learned Japanese independently, as well as a Japanese student who is studying Arabic at An-Najah.

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