Explore the wide range of opportunities for young Bahrainis to study and do research in the EU. Exclusive interview with HE the Ambassador of the European Union to Bahrain, Patrick Simonnet
Q1 – The European Union is participating in the upcoming Alpha Conference, an educational symposium which aims to bring centers of educational excellence from around the world to Bahrain. What does the European Union have to offer in the field of education?
A: The EU is a global center of excellence in education, driven by constant innovation and home to a large number of world-class universities that are helping to create the skills for the future and the next generation of creative thinkers, entrepreneurs and global leaders.
The Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, for example, may not be particularly well-known in Bahrain, but it is ranked as one of the most creative universities in the world by Reuters. This is not surprising given that its scientists and researchers file more international patents than any other university in Europe. Similarly, the German University of Erlangen Nuremberg publishes more academic research, files more patents, and has more academic citations than the University of Cambridge or Oxford. Between them, the two universities have seven Nobel laureates.
And the good news is that with the expansion of our international programs in the field of education, such as Erasmus +, Bahraini students, just like those from the Gulf region, can participate, for example, in exchanges of short term with European universities, to study, but also to take advantage of training and learning opportunities.
Q2 – Student mobility is growing rapidly as world-class universities continue to compete for global talent. How attractive is the EU as a study and research destination?
A: The European Union is home to over one million students from the GCC, North America, East Asia and around the world, enrolled in our world-renowned universities with high academic rankings and state-of-the-art research facilities. In fact, many of the top 100 universities in the world are in Europe.
The European education system is very inclusive. It has taken in people like Ozlem Tureci, the daughter of Turkish immigrants who earned an MD from Saarland University in Homburg, Germany, and went on to develop the BioNTech-Pfizer Covid vaccine, just as it trains teachers, doctors and economists. But not everyone is cut out to be a scholar. Higher education in Europe is for all high school graduates, whether they aspire to become hotel managers or nuclear physicists. The education system in Europe is designed to maximize the potential of each individual.
Another attractive factor is the low tuition fees, which are significantly lower than their counterparts elsewhere in the world. For example, the Sorbonne University in Paris, one of the most important universities in Europe, now also with a campus in Abu Dhabi, offers English degrees in humanities, sciences, engineering and in medicine. Students are only required to pay a very modest tuition fee, often less than EUR 500 per year (213 Bahraini dinars) and no tuition fees, making studying in Europe an attainable dream for many.
Q3 – The EU is renowned for its cultural diversity with 24 official languages. Are there study programs in English?
A: Absolutely. There are over 4,000 higher education institutions in the EU, offering a wide range of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral courses – and a high percentage of them are in English. The number of Masters taught in English in Europe has increased from around 1,000 in 2007 to more than 5,000 in 2021. And in a STEM subject, doctoral courses are more often in English than in any other language because it is the unofficial language of science.
The University of Bologna, for example, one of the oldest universities in the world, founded in 1088, has an increasingly rich catalog of programs in English, ranking first in Italy and among the top five universities in the world. Europe in terms of number of exchange students. Not surprisingly, it is also among the top five Italian universities in major international rankings.
Q4 – The EU is a large union made up of 27 countries. Is it easy for students to move from one European university to another and even to travel across Europe?
A: Mobility within the Union is one of Europe’s fundamental strengths. The European Union and a number of other countries codified their higher education systems in 1999 under what is known as the Bologna Process, which allows students to quickly transfer their credits from an academic institution from one country to another, thanks to the European credit transfer system (ECTS).
And once you arrive in Europe, you are in the Schengen area, which allows you to travel without screws across EU borders, allowing you to discover Europe’s historical monuments, its centuries-old culture, its diversity and its first-class cuisine, things that are unique only in Europe. . Students can visit the renowned cities of Paris, Rome, Venice, Amsterdam, Bruges, Barcelona, Prague and Lisbon, but also emerging destinations to discover Europe’s unique cultural and natural heritage – from Tallinn to Bucharest and from Dubrovnik to Krakow. There is also a distinct student culture in Europe.
Q5 – You mentioned Erasmus+. What is it and what opportunities does it offer Bahraini and GCC students?
Erasmus+ is the EU program to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe and beyond and it focuses on lifelong learning, with a budget of 26.2 billion euros for 2021-2027. It is one of the most visible successes of the European Union with more than 30 years of experience in European and international partnerships in the field of education, training, youth and sport. It covers formal, informal and non-formal learning, providing opportunities in higher education, vocational training, early childhood education, adult education and youth. And it is an excellent instrument to foster closer academic cooperation between Bahrain and the European Union.
The European Union has designated 2022 as the European Year of Youth, an opportunity to make a significant contribution to a brighter future for young people, so there’s no better time to encourage closer relationships between young people Europeans and Bahrainis. It is easy to access all the opportunities available under the Erasmus+ program at https://erasmus-plus.ec.europa.eu/.
Q6 – Does it offer opportunities for Masters students?
Yes. The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJM) is a prestigious and integrated international study program delivered by an international consortium of higher education institutions, open to all disciplines and GCC students. There are more than 250 EMJM degrees ranging from social sciences and humanities, economics, environment and geosciences, life sciences, information sciences and engineering, mathematics and physics .
The program allows students to study at some of Europe’s most iconic universities, including the Sorbonne, the Catholic University of Louvain, the University of Ghent, the University of Copenhagen, the Karolinska Institute and the University Erasmus in Rotterdam, among others. Postgraduate courses include Data-Intensive Intelligent Software Systems Engineering, Embedded Computing Systems, Marine Biological Resource Science, Artificial Intelligence, Innovative Medicine and Security, Intelligence, and Strategic Studies.
There are more interesting graduate programs for research in Europe that are not available anywhere else in the world. The University of Skövde in Sweden offers a master’s degree in computer game design and Lulea University of Technology offers a postgraduate degree in spacecraft design. There are of course other more traditional programs in English across the EU in social sciences, business and economics and everything in between. The choices are endless.
Q 7 – Are there scholarship opportunities?
Yes. The scholarships are available to the top-ranked applicants worldwide, in annual application cycles. EU scholarships cover the cost of a student’s participation in the programme, travel and a living allowance. This is a unique mobile educational experience requiring two periods of study in two countries while benefiting from a high degree of cutting-edge expertise.
There are many other scholarships available to study in Europe, provided by a number of EU member states, which can be searched on a country-by-country basis. A useful resource is the Study in Europe website at https://www.studyineurope.eu/
Q8 – What message do you have for future students?
Europe is leading the world in tackling climate change, eradicating global poverty, promoting gender equality and universal human rights. We know that change is constant and inevitable, whether in fashion, business or technology. If we accept this as a truism and cherish the traditions and environment passed down to us from previous generations, we can strive for a more perfect world – together.
Studying in Europe will expose you to a unique learning experience that will set you apart from your peers. Along the way, you’ll have a rich cultural experience and meaningful friendships that will stay with you for a lifetime.