Students at Egypt's AUC protest tuition fee increases

Ekram Ibrahim, Thursday 13 Sep 2012

American University in Cairo (AUC) students protest 7pct hike in annual tuition fees; University administrators attribute increases to rising inflation

Students at Egypt
students walk through the American University in Cairo campus in New Cairo, Egypt(Photo: AP)

A couple hundred students from Egypt's American University in Cairo (AUC) staged a demonstration on Thursday at the university's new campus in the New Cairo district to protest a 7 per cent annual increase in college tuition fees.

Protesting students complain of what they describe as "cumulative increases" in AUC's annual tuition fees.

Marketing student Habiba Maged told Ahram Online that annual tuition fees had risen from around LE38,000 to LE62,000 this semester alone.

Student protesters aim to collect 5,000 fellow students' signatures in support of cancelling the fee increases. "We've already collected over 3,000 signatures in only one week's time," Maged told Ahram Online.

Students complain they are paying extra fees without receiving better education or better services. On the contrary, some students report that many foreign professors have recently left AUC, adding that university services, too, had not improved.

"University administrators tell us that we're paying extra fees to match rising rates of inflation," AUC engineering student Youssef Mohamed told Ahram Online.

In August, AUC President Lisa Anderson and a handful of other top AUC officials met with representatives of AUC's student union to explain the reasons for the fee increases.

"There have been inaccurate reports that the increase is 8.25 per cent, not the 7 per cent that was discussed at the Ad Hoc Finance Committee, adopted by the Trustees and communicated to parents in June," read an email in late August from Anderson to university students.

In a small concession to students, however, university administrators postponed the deadline for the payment of fees from 6 September to 9 September.

On Thursday, the president of AUC's student union met with the university's vice president, to whom he presented a list of protesting students' demands.

If the demands – mainly the cancellation of fee increases – go unheeded, some students are planning to "shut down the campus by blocking the entrance on Sunday while calling on fellow students not to attend classes," said Maged. 

Last year saw similar student protests at AUC against rising tuition fees. At the time, students also demanded better wages for campus workers.

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