An Egyptian court has ordered the American University in Cairo to collect all tuition fees from local students in Egyptian pounds instead of in dollars, after a group of parents brought a lawsuit challenging a recent increase in fees.
The court judgement comes in the wake of the flotation of the Egyptian pound last November, which led to the dollar almost doubling in value against the local currency.
The leading private university currently requires local students pay half their fees in local currency and half in dollars, or the local currency calculated at the market rate.
In November, following the liberalisation of the pound, AUC students, parents of students and alumni protested against potential fee hikes; as a result the university agreed to calculate any outstanding payments due for that semester's fees at the pre-liberalisation exchange rate of EGP 8.88 to the dollar.
Fees for the spring semester, which began in January, are calculated at the market rate of the dollar, which on Sunday was approximately 17.6 – 17.85 EGP to the dollar.
The lawsuit, brought by a group of parents, called on the prime minister, the speaker of parliament, the minister of higher education and the president of AUC to stop collecting fees in US dollars.
"We respect the judiciary," AUC's media relations director Rehab Saad told Ahram Online following the court verdict.
Saad added that the university administration still does not have a position on the verdict and will hold a meeting later on Sunday to decide on a statement.
AUC used to calculate Egyptian student tuition fees in local currency, until a 2014 decision mandated that half be calculated in dollars.
The scarcity of foreign currency, and the increase in inflation caused by the liberalisation of the pound, has caused widespread concern among different sectors of Egyptian society, including students and parents of students who attend private schools and universities which charge tuition fees linked to foreign currencies.
AUC has set up an emergency grant which allows students facing hardship to pay up to 100 percent of their dollar portion of fees at the old exchange rate of EGP 8.88.
The university announced in January that 1,833 undergraduate students received the emergency grant for the spring semester.