The Texas International Education Consortium was selected along with eight other U.S. universities to participate in U.S. Embassy Cairo’s United States University Tour of Egypt. The embassy-sponsored initiative was designed to support Egypt’s Vision 2030, which includes a significant focus on education and an expansion of international universities in Egypt. Texas was well represented, as TIEC member university, UT Rio Grande Valley also accepted an invitation to attend.
According to AMIDEAST, a private non-profit organization in Egypt who conducted the logistics for the tour, “the objective of the study tour was to familiarize U.S. universities with the opportunities available in Egypt and foster constructive partnerships between universities in Egypt and the U.S.”
The tour included visits to nine diverse university campuses across the country, as well as meetings with high level officials from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR), the Supreme Council of Universities (SCU), and the National Authority for Quality Assurance of Education (NAQAAE).
As Egypt shepherds in widespread industrial and educational reform initiatives, Egyptian universities are steering away from memorization-based curriculum standards and focusing more on entrepreneurship and critical thinking models in order to better prepare students for the workforce.
“Entrepreneurship is a way forward,” said Egyptian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar. “Egypt has too many graduates and we need to be teaching students how to create new jobs to sustain our growth.”
Egypt has 100 million people, and 20 million students. According to the government, for every person retiring in the country, three more enter the workforce. As a result, universities are shifting focus on job skills and competencies.
“Egypt is experiencing a youth bomb,” said the President of Future University Egypt, Dr. Ebada Sarhan. “An astounding 45% of our population is under the age of 25, so our aim is to ensure our children are qualified and competitive.”
The country is also experiencing an increase of international students due to its strategic location between Africa and the Middle East. With its education reform plan, MOHESR is hoping to see more international branch campuses in the country, as well as other levels of comprehensive internationalization.
“We see international branch campuses as mutually beneficial: we have many students who travel abroad, but even more who want to and do not have the funds,” said the SCU Secretary General, Dr. Mohamed Lotayef. “We want to build international partnerships and work to retain our best students here in Egypt.”
The tour ended with an international education summit focused on exploring partnerships in the region.
The tour took place April 13th-19th and included visits to Cairo University, Ain Shams University, University of Canada, Zewall City University, New Giza University, Nile University, Future University, American University in Cairo, and Al Galala University.