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Number of foreign students in local universities still on the rise

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Apr 02,2018 - Last updated at Apr 02,2018

AMMAN — Jordanian universities this year witnessed a 16-per cent increase in the number of foreign students which resulted in a contribution of 2.5 per cent to the national gross domestic product (GDP), Higher Education Minister Adel Tweisi said.

In an interview with The Jordan Times, Tweisi noted that the ministry plans to raise the percentage of international students to 25 per cent by next year. 

The raise in the number of exchange students comes as a result of several actions being undertaken within the ministry's executive plan to attract 70,000 international students by the year 2020, director of International Student Affairs at the ministry, Fidaa Tameemi said. 

In September 2017, the ministry established a new directorate aimed at promoting Jordan as an educational destination and at improving the experiences of international students in the Kingdom. 

“Our purpose is to take care of all international students from their arrival to the airport to the moment they go back home,” Tameemi said, adding that the ministry will also provide support to the students "beyond academic issues". 

On Sunday, the ministry issued a bulletin titled "Study in Jordan", comprising information about the Kingdom and its universities in 9 languages.

The ministry's Secretary General Ahed Wahadneh said that the bulletin provides foreign students with information such as the geography, currency and climate of Jordan, in addition to contacts of Jordanian universities and information on the services offered by the International Students' Affairs.

The brochure follows the release of a video outlining information about Jordan, university admission requirements and tuition fees, which has recorded over 70,000 views since its publication three months ago, Tweisi said. 

Furthermore, the ministry is currently holding its first educational fair in Kuwait, where students are acquainted with a number of Jordanian universities. A second educational fair will be held in another Gulf state later this year, Tweisi announced, adding that two more exhibitions will be held in Southeast Asian countries in 2019. 

Asked about the impact of hosting foreign students in Jordanian universities, Tweisi stressed that “the more international students our universities host, the better they will position in internationally acclaimed academic rankings,” pointing out that “Jordanian universities are still struggling to reach a good position in the international picture”.

The minister also highlighted the economic benefits of bringing exchange students into the Kingdom, saying “foreign students and their families attract more visitors into our country, resulting in higher touristic revenues. When they return to their homelands, they also become ambassadors of Jordan to their people.”

Nerea Callejón, a Spanish exchange student at the University of Jordan, is one of these “future ambassadors”. “Amman felt like home since the very first day I arrived. Everyone is helpful and I am thankful for their great hospitality,” she said, adding “this is why I have already recommended Jordan to my family and friends despite the short amount of time I have spent here.” 

Lourdes Navarro, another Spanish exchange student, describes Amman as a multicultural destination. “It is a city where people from many nationalities co-exist and that makes it open and cozy,” said the student, who was attracted to Jordan because of its language and convenient geographical position for further travel.

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