During an event in London to raise scholarship funds for AUC, The PIE caught up with the president of this US-accredited university in Cairo to talk about its ambitions as a global university in Egypt.
The PIE: To ask to what extent do you feel American University of Cairo is a global university?
FR: It is definitely a global university. We just received our accreditation from the American Middle States Council on Higher Education, so we are fully accredited: American curriculum, American pedagogy, American philosophy, international staff, faculty and student body. [We’re a] global university but there is a challenge – and that is bringing the world back to Egypt and that is very much our mission. To bring more international students, faculty and staff back to this incredibly fascinating country.
The PIE: So how many nationalities do you have enrolled at the moment on campus?
FR: We have 48 nationalities and representatives. We just got our numbers for this fall term.
The PIE: Which nationalities are most likely to enrol?
FR: Right now 95% of our students are Egyptians. The other 5% of internationals: 4% out of the 5% are other Arabs. Most of them are from the Gulf, Palestinians, North Africans and so forth and 1% are all others. Only 10 years ago, before the revolution, we had as many as almost 700 American students in the year 2008. Whether enrolled in a full-time four-year degree program or our master’s programs or a year abroad.
Our challenge is to get those numbers back, up we are working with great focus and determination and we are very optimistic that now that things have calmed down in Egypt – now that the State Department of the United States has put Egypt in the same security category as the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain – that would again encourage tourists to come back as well as students and scholars.
The PIE: So was it really a security issue [that contributed to a drop in numbers]?
FR: Largely, and perceptions of insecurity.
The PIE: How long have you been based in Cairo?
FR: Well I used to be an American diplomat and I served something like 10 years in three different assignments before coming back. I came back to Cairo in this private capacity – we’re a private American university – a little over two years ago.
The PIE: So, does it feel like it has gotten a lot safer or has it always actually felt safe?
FR: You know Egypt was traumatised during the revolution and the post-revolution [period] in 2013. When you know your way around the country, you see that 100 million people are living normal lives every day. So I feel very very comfortable and secure there. Egyptians are among the most welcoming of any people anywhere and certainly in the Middle East so it feels good to me.
Read more : Amy Baker : The PIE News : 14 November, 2018