By Sarah Tomlinson
Ryerson will be launching a new satellite campus in Cairo, Egypt to give local students the opportunity to get a Canadian post-secondary education. The first cohort will begin classes in September 2021, according to a media release from Ryerson Today.
The campus will be facilitated by Universities of Canada in Egypt, the first international branch campus in the New Administrative Capital—a new smart city that will house 6.5 million people and relieve congestion in Cairo.
The Universities of Canada in Egypt provides Canadian university programs to local students. Now in its third year of operation, students are currently enrolled in the University of Prince Edward Island’s entrepreneurship, sustainable design engineering, computer science and mathematics programs.
Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi said the university has been discussing a new campus for several years with the Universities of Canada.
“Egypt is the bridge between North America and the Middle East and we think this could be an opportunity to share Ryerson programming with [international] students,” he said.
The further expansion into Africa would also help meet the demand for post-secondary education in the continent, Lachemi said. Although Africa’s current primary school enrolment rate is above 80 per cent on average, only 7 to 23 per cent of post-secondary-aged youth are enrolled, according to an article by the United Nations.
Lama Abouelkir, president of the Egyptian Student Association (ESA), said she’s very proud that Egypt is one of the first countries to collaborate with Ryerson.
“I want to help promote the university there and let people know that all this is happening,” she said.
Carol Elkhoury, the finance executive for the ESA, agreed and said the Cairo campus creates a sense of pride for all Egyptian students at Ryerson.
“We’re excited to show it off because it’s something so major and so amazing,” she said.
Zaina Amer, the vice-president of the ESA, said the association hopes to act as a liaison between both schools. Their main goal is to “bring a piece of Egypt’’ to Ryerson, complementing Ryerson’s efforts in “bringing a piece of Canada into Egypt.”
Lachemi said the new campus will offer media production, sport media, fashion, and civil, electrical and mechanical engineering programs through the Faculty of Communication and Design and the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science. Both faculties plan on expanding their programming in the future.
The programs will follow the same curriculum as those offered to students in Canada. In addition, 50 per cent of all faculty and staff is expected to be made up of Canadian citizens and are subject to Canadian post-secondary hiring standards. Ryerson will also determine tuition fees for programs in balance with Egyptian market rates, according to Ryerson Today.
Amer said it’s a “big investment” for the campus to be located in Egypt’s new capital.
According to Reuters, the new capital is the biggest step in a series of mega-projects championed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi as a source of economic growth and jobs. The capital includes government and business districts, a park and a planned diplomatic quarter.
Nancy Awadallah, a third-year biology student of Egyptian descent, has travelled to Egypt many times and lived there for a year with her parents. She said she’s excited for Ryerson to have a new campus in Cairo.
“I think Cairo is a great first place for Ryerson to start venturing out of Toronto,” said Awadallah. “I’ve spent time there on vacations and it always has the same hustle and bustle and busy vibes like in Toronto.”
According to World Atlas, Cairo is the second-largest populated city in Africa with an estimated 20.4 million residents. Cairo also has the sixth-largest population in the world.
Awadallah added that many students she knows in Egypt are always looking to study internationally.
According to an article by World Education News Reviews, since 2008, the number of Egyptian degree-seeking students pursuing their education abroad has nearly tripled, from 12,331 to 31,822 students in 2017. Egypt is also the fourth-largest sending country of international students in the Arab world after Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Syria.
“I think it’ll be a great opportunity for students to learn about Canada, and maybe some will take the opportunity to continue their studies in Toronto,” Awadallah said.
Abouelkir said she’d be interested in pursuing her studies in Egypt at the new campus.
“I want the same quality learning experience that we have here at Ryerson to be in my home country as well, so I’m very glad that’s happening,” she said.
Likewise, Amer said that with the new campus being available and many Egyptian Ryerson students being back home due to online learning, some of them could consider continuing their studies in Egypt.
“Most of them are there right now so it becomes easier for them to just transfer and then they would just graduate from a Canadian university the same way we are [in Toronto],” she said.
Besides the Universities of Canada in Egypt, the country also hosts other foreign universities, including the American University of Cairo, the German University in Cairo, the British University in Egypt and the Université Française d’Egypte, according to an article by World Education News Reviews.