Bemidji State University and the University of the Comoros, a publicly-owned institution in the Comoros Islands founded in 2003, have signed a memorandum of understanding that sets the groundwork for faculty and student exchanges between the institutions.
The memorandum allows for faculty exchanges to begin immediately, and sets the stage for Bemidji State students to pursue a semester-long study abroad opportunity in The Comoros starting in spring of 2014.
“There are details still to be worked out with the student exchange,” said Dr. Martin Tadlock, Bemidji State’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.
The agreement came at a conference of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, at a meeting between Tadlock, Dr. Patricia L. Rogers, dean of Bemidji State’s College of Health Science and Human Ecology, and the director of the association’s international program. That program helps facilitate linkages between American institutions and overseas colleges and universities.
The University of the Comoros had been invited to present at the conference about its efforts to seek partnerships with schools following a visit by the association’s program director to their campus last year. Tadlock and Rogers were introduced to the delegation and the agreement was quickly completed.
“We talked with their president and set up a meeting to talk with them and learn more about them,” Tadlock said. “We wanted to share with them the kinds of agreements we were setting up and the things we’re trying to do here, and asked if that would work for them. The next morning they said ‘yes, we’d love to do it,’ and we signed the agreement with them at the conference.”
About The Comoros
The Union of the Comoros is a sovereign archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel approximately 200 miles off the eastern coast of Africa. Other countries near the Comoros are Tanzania to the northwest and the Seychelles to the northeast. Its capital is Moroni, on Grande Comore.
At 719 square miles, excluding the contested island of Mayotte, the Comoros is the third-smallest African nation by area and has an estimated population of around 800,000. The Union of the Comoros has three official languages – Comorian, Arabic and French – though French is the sole official language on Mayotte.
“Comoros is an interesting place, being French-speaking and about 90 percent Muslim,” Tadlock said. “This is a very unique opportunity. We didn’t want to just offer the traditional kind semester abroad. We want to give our students the most unique kinds of experiences we can. Comoros is a developing nation, but they are trying to develop their university and their education system quickly. They already have 8,000 students at the university. It’s a very unique situation.”
Bemidji State has exchange agreements with four universities in China and one each in Malaysia, Iceland and Seoul, South Korea. The agreement with The Comoros and an agreement to be announced in the near future will bring BSU’s number of international partners to nine. These agreements allow Bemidji State students to spend a semester studying abroad at a low cost, less than $1,000 above the cost of studying full-time at BSU for a semester.
“Ideally we would like to have 12 locations with 10 slots each,” Tadlock said. “That would get us to our goal of having 120 opportunities each semester for our students to study abroad at an affordable cost.”
Tadlock indicated BSU should have signed agreements in place to reach that goal of 120 opportunities per semester by the end of this summer.
• The Comoros on Google Maps