Partnerships boost Egypt's universities
For some, the opportunity to study in another country, meet new people and experience a different culture has appeal, although the where, what and how can be a concern.
Egypt has identified higher education as a priority and has more than double the number of university students as South Africa, with private international universities supplementing its public ones.
Among these are universities which offer courses in English, the oldest being the American University and more recent additions the German University of Cairo (GUC) and British University in Egypt (BUE).
On a visit to the BUE campus on the outskirts of Cairo, a media delegation was met by a group of African scholarship students.
BUE president Professor Ahmed Hamad said the university - inaugurated in 2006 with Prince Charles as guest of honour - was recognised as a leader in scientific research, aiming to produce graduates for key sectors in the Egyptian and international market. It launched with three colleges and 200 students and today has 10 colleges, including engineering and computer science, pharmacy, nursing and dentistry, mass communication and law, business administration and architecture, with a new art and design college opening next year.
BUE has partnerships with London South Bank and Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, among others, while the new college will partner with Westminster University. BUE graduates receive a degree accredited by Egyptian higher education authorities and validated in the UK.
At the German University of Cairo, established in 2003 in co-operation with two state universities in Germany, new technologies are being explored.
Professor Ashaf Mansour, chairperson of the board of trustees of GUC and one of its founders, said the team believed in the power of knowledge and science to create a better world.
Ambassador Nihad Zikry said GUC was the largest integrated German university outside of its home country, and a leading centre of excellence and research on the African continent. GUC offers around 70 study options up to PhD level, with more than 10000 undergraduate and 500 postgraduate students and has a strong focus on engineering and technology. A new campus is planned in Egypt’s new administrative capital, offering applied sciences such as electrical, mechanical and automotive engineering, robotics and artificial intelligence as well as banking, finance, business administration and international trade.
The German university also has co-operation agreements with multinationals and with academies, including the Academy of Science in South Africa. At the GUC’s Solar Energy City, the media group was shown an impressive solar farm with 4000 solar cells. Here Dr Abdel Fattah Mansour explained that, with the help of German partners, they were testing the best sustainable energy solutions for conditions in Egypt, while producing more than enough energy for the campus needs.
He said African countries could benefit more from solar. “Solar cannot replace traditional as long as the cost stays so high for energy storage,” he said, but it can account for 30% of the grid,” he said.
The third campus visited by the media team was the National Training Academy (NTA), Sheikh Zayed City in New Giza, established in 2017 as one of the national projects of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
NTA director Dr Rascha Ragheb said that as important as mega-projects for infrastructure were, so were those to develop human capital.
NTA aims to build Egypt’s capacity for a smart and forward-looking public service, but also supports the transfer of knowledge and promoting the idea of Africans coming together to solve their problems.