On the 1st of March, Professor Omri, Tutorial Fellow at St St John’s College and Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at the Faculty of Asian and Middle East Studies, coordinated a visit by a high delegation from the Tunisia-UK Joint Commission for Higher Education and Scientific Research to Oxford St John’s College. The Joint Commission was founded in 2018 to bring together various initiatives in the areas of higher education and research, and to empower a step change in the relations between Tunisia and the UK in these areas. It includes representatives of governments and universities in both countries. Focus has been on mobility of staff and students, QAA, English as a foreign language, employability and research exchange. Professor Omri is a founding member of the commission. The commission has facilitated setting up a venue for Oxford students of Arabic to spend their Year Abroad in Tunisia, which is now in its third year.
The delegation comprised Professor Moncef Boukthir, Minister of Higher Education; Mr Malek Kochlef, Director of international cooperation; Professor Jilani Lamloumi, Director of Higher Education and Professor Jouhaina Ghrib, President of the University of Mannouba. On the British side, Ambassador Helen Winterton and Mr Khaled Bargaoui, Education Project Manager at the UK embassy. From Oxford side, President Dame Sue Black, President of St John’s; David Rechter, Chair of AMES; David Gann, PVC for international strategy; Andrew Brown of the International Office. The delegation briefed university and St John’s College members on the work of the commission and explored ways of improving relations between the University of Oxford and St John’s College on one side and Tunisian universities on the other at all levels. The delegation also met with 9 undergraduate Oxford students who have been through the Arabic Tunisia programme.
Professor Omri’s work in this area occurs within his interest in UK-Tunisia relations and the relationship university and society in post-authoritarian settings. This is part of his research and outreach activities, and has resulted in three edited books and several conferences and colloquia, and an Impact Case for REF 21. The books are: University and society in the context of Arab revolutions and new humanism, 2016; The Movement of People and Ideas between Britain and the Maghreb, 2003; Britain and the Maghreb: The State of Research and Cultural Contacts, 2002.)