EGYPT: New schools at oldest private university

This month has been action-packed for the American University in Cairo, Egypt's oldest independent higher education institution founded 90 years ago. At high profile ceremonies attended by Egyptian and foreign dignitaries, the university launched three new schools - of global affairs and public policy, business, and graduate education.

The university described the new school of global affairs and public policy, and the school of business, as the first of their kind in Egypt and the Middle East.

"The school of global affairs and public policy will contribute proactively, constructively and inclusively to the international, regional and domestic debate in the public domain," said Nabil Fahmy, the school's dean and Egypt's former ambassador to the US, at the launch ceremony on 7 February.

The school has three major academic departments - law, public policy and administration, and journalism and mass communication. "Through its multi-disciplinary yet rigorous disciplines, it will provide graduates with the best possible tools to participate in developing the policies of the future and will enable them to be thoughtful leaders," Fahmy said.

"We live in a world of vast opportunities, stark contradictions and grave challenges. Passivism and apathy are not options or choices that we can afford or condone. Nor can the world community respond appropriately if it does not empower itself with inclusive multi-disciplinary thinking, tolerance for others and a global outlook to the policy issues it faces."

According to the ex-diplomat, the school of global affairs and public policy will address policy issues related to the rule of law, sustainable development, communication and media, health, environment and climate change, gender, refugees, Middle East studies, American studies, international and urban governance, international security and nuclear proliferation.

At the same ceremony, held on the new American University in Cairo campus outside the Egyptian capital, the institution's President David D Arnold also declared the official launch of a school of business.

The university is a regional leader in business education and research. The new school aims to develop the capacity of individuals, companies and communities to build value and create prosperity in Egypt and elsewhere.

Sherif Kamel, the school's dean, said its three primary areas would be entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership. It was important, he said, to use the university's human, social and intellectual capital and state-of-the-art resources and facilities to equip students with the business skills and knowledge needed to excel in a highly competitive global marketplace.

The new restructured school, whose forerunner was one of just 5% of all business schools to be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, includes three departments - economics, management, and accounting - and houses several executive education, services and research centres.

Days earlier, the university unveiled its new graduate school of education which is aimed at enhancing excellence in practice and research among pre-university and higher education professionals.

"The new school represents a major investment in the future of Egypt and a promise to its young people," Arnold told the launch ceremony. "It is a resource that will strengthen Egypt's educational environment, both in terms of available professional resources and workforce."

The school includes professional teacher diploma programmes that offer non-credit education diplomas in educational leadership, early literacy education, teaching diverse learners, integrated educational technology, and teaching for non-education majors. Some 185 students have already been enrolled as well as 37 school teachers and administrators.

To extend its benefit to the greater Cairo community, the school also offers non-credit parenting courses to Egyptian families seeking to participate more effectively in their children's education and upbringing.

"The new school of graduate education is an excellent addition to the education system in Egypt," Minister of Higher Education Hani Helal told the inaugural ceremony.