First Student Exchange Program Between Israeli, Moroccan Universities
Moroccan doctoral student Ilham Zargan at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, Israel. (Screenshot: The Media Line)

First Student Exchange Program Between Israeli, Moroccan Universities

Official collaboration between Ben-Gurion University and Mohammed VI Polytechnic University became possible after the signing of the Israel–Morocco normalization agreement in December 2020

A delegation of four Moroccan students arrived at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev for a summer semester, for a first-of-its-kind cooperation between an Israeli and a Moroccan university. The four spent the semester studying in the university’s data science and health system programs, with students from all around the world.

“There were a lot of travels and activities, and I ended up really liking this place,” Ilham Zargan, a doctoral student told The Media Line.

Zargan is researching a plant-based cure for cancer that could potentially replace chemotherapy in some cases.

“It was interesting for me to learn how a health system is so much more than taking care of a single cell. It’s the bureaucracy, the people, the hospitals- and that’s so much more complicated than how I used to think of public health,” she says.

Zargan is aware she might have problems entering countries that forbid the holders of passports with Israeli stamps from entering, but she doesn’t regret it.

“I might not be able to enter Tunisia for research in the future, but it is a matter of priorities which I made,” she says.

The official collaboration between Ben-Gurion University and Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco became possible after the signing of the Israel–Morocco normalization agreement in December 2020 – one of several normalization agreements between Israel and Arab countries, known as the Abraham Accords, that were reached that year.

“Although I have no Moroccan heritage in my family, once I stepped there, there was something very natural about it,” Prof. Limor Aharonson-Daniel, vice president for global engagement at Ben-Gurion University, tells The Media Line. Aharonson-Daniel took part in establishing the academic ties after the accords.

“I think this will strengthen the ties between Israel and Morocco,” Laila Perelman-Soppi, director of student mobility programs at Ben-Gurion University, told The Media Line. “It’s not only the touristic part but also the academic relations that we can build together and do research projects for the future, and impact the world,” she added.

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