How private universities in Egypt are affected by the dollar crisis

Misr or Egypt University for Science and Technology (MUST), a private university in 6th October City.(by Shutterstock)

Students are demonstrating  against the doubling of tuition fees after the Egyptian pound's decline. Ahmad Abdul-Rahman explains.

The rapid collapse of the value of the pound has led to unrest in international and private universities, whose fees are paid in dollars. The crisis of private university students has reached the Egyptian parliament, where a member of parliament, Ayman Muhassab, submitted a request for a briefing to the minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. This included the American University in Cairo (AUC), where fees have doubled. This burdens parents' and threatens the future of a large number of students, according to the MP.

The value of the Egyptian pound decreased by about 100 per cent in less than a year, and the dollar reached the level of EGP30.63, up from EGP15.6 in March last year.

In early February, Egyptian public opinion was surprised by scenes of demonstrations organised by dozens of students on the campus of the AUC. They were protesting the increase in tuition fees due to the depreciation of the pound against the dollar. Because tuition fees are paid in dollars, this doubled their fees from about EGP350,000 (about USD 11,500) for the academic year to more than EGP700,000 (about USD 23,000). The students raised banners in Arabic and English calling on the university administration to reconsider the fees.

However, the administration of the AUC, which is more than 104 years old, confirmed that it did not increase its fees in the current academic year, but that the depreciation of the Egyptian pound against the American currency is the reason for the crisis.

University spokeswoman Rehab Saad said that the administration increased the value of scholarships in the 2022-2023 academic year to USD45 million, up from USD39 million allocated annually. Saad added in press statements that there are 3,000 students who receive grants for expenses and financial aid. This represents about 40 per cent of the number of students, including 850 students who receive full scholarships for tuition costs.

Mitigating the effects of the crisis

After announcing the decision to hike prices, the university spokeswoman explained that the administration issued decisions to contain the repercussions of the devaluation of the Egyptian pound by establishing an emergency fund to support students who cannot pay dues at the new exchange rate. This was in addition to granting a 10 per cent reduction in university fees for the semester to students who paid before February 9. The university also stressed that it undertakes not to force any student to leave the university because of his inability to pay tuition fees.

According to the American University website, a student can pay part of the tuition in US dollars, and the other half in Egyptian pounds, according to the official exchange rate set by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) at the time of payment.

After days of demonstrations, the university administration held a dialogue with several students to present its decisions, but many of them expressed their dissatisfaction with them and demanded that the amounts be paid in installments with the prescribed discount rate to be applied.

Some students asked about the possibility of extending the discount period until the end of the semester. However, the academic president of the university, Ehab Abdel Rahman, said that this would cause a problem in calculating the budget allocated to the emergency fund. University resident Ahmed Dalal also said that the administration is working to reach long-term solutions, but he did not explain what they are.

Universities Law

In turn, the secretary of the Supreme Council of Private Universities, Muhammad Helmy Al-Ghar, explained that the Private Universities Law stipulates that financial transactions within the university are an inherent right of universities, and their budgets do not need to be presented to the Council. Al-Ghar added in televised statements that it is customary for tuition increases to be at the beginning of the academic year with no increases imposed in the middle of the year. He added that as AUC is a foreign university, its fees are affected by the increase in the value of the dollar.

Al-Ghar affirmed that no complaints had been received to the council about increases in fees in any of the private Egyptian universities. In the event that a student fails to pay the dues, he also said that the case should be presented to the resident of the Supreme Council of Universities, which should in turn present the case to the president of the university, which, in most cases, finds a response.

Achievements and gaps of the Trump administration ...
The return of tensions between Iran and Israel is ...


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Friday, 02 June 2023