With Egyptian universities re-opening their doors for returning and new students for this academic year, many students argue whether or not the education system in Egypt is just another business sector where universities compete to make profits.
Noura Hariry, a communication engineer who had applied to Ain Shams and recently graduated from the credit system, says that when she attended the university, the credit system was beneficial relative to the average EGP 11,000 that students paid per year.
Cairo and Ain Shams University are the oldest and most prestigious public universities in Egypt that introduced the English section and the credit system in the early and mid-2000s, respectively.
“We attended the lectures in our own air-conditioned building and we received different textbooks from the mainstream sections at the university,” Hariry said, adding that the number of the students who registered for the credit hours programmes were much fewer than those who attended the normal programmes, which allowed for a better quality of education.
“The system was beneficial at the time but now, the credit system students attend lectures in the normal mainstream buildings and the fees have increased, so I don’t think there is any difference in the two systems,” Hariry said.
Yussef Mahmoud, a construction management engineer and former president of the entrepreneur society club at the American University in Cairo (AUC), said: “The quality of education we received was high, however, it was not worth what they [students] pay.”
“With the new campus, the university started accepting more students and as the number of students increased, the number of the professors decreased, and the quality of education deteriorated,” Mahmoud added.
“I participated in several activities at the university and this is why I got the AUC experience and learned. However, many students just come to college, attend classes and leave. They don’t get the same experience and exposure they need and they don’t gain from the experience that makes AUC stand out when comparing to other Egyptian universities,” Mahmoud said.
In 2012, AUC witnessed a series of demonstrations in protest to the increase in fees. The demonstrations resulted in a two week lockdown. Nevertheless, an agreement was reached between the university’s student union and management.
Alia Mostafa, a student at the German University in Cairo, said that the services the university offered could have been better; however, it is reasonable compared to the fees the students pay.
“Our exams and curriculum is all in English, yet, when I went to the university, a lot of professors and teaching assistants discussed the material mostly in Arabic. This shouldn’t be the case,” said Mostafa.
“I do not regret attending the university, and I believe what we received in education and activities was adequate when considering the amount of fees we paid,” Mostafa added.
Mostafa discussed the development of the promises the university made regarding student activity when prospective students were applying: “During my senior year at the university, the first student union was formed and I remember how that felt like a milestone in the university’s student activities programme.”