Last Thursday, the American University in Cairo (AUC) has started its first day of classes where it is implementing a hybrid teaching model aimed at lowering student density on campus.
This move comes as one of several precautionary measures that the University is taking in an effort to help limit the spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
Under the new hybrid model, 93 percent of classes will be taught online.
"I warmly welcome both new and returning AUCians to this bright new academic year, promising an unusual wealth of challenges and opportunities," said AUC President Francis Ricciardone in his welcome message to the AUC community. "I am pleased to welcome an especially strong incoming freshman class."
For the first time, the AUC’s First-Year Programme (FYP) for incoming students was blended this fall. The integrated orientation was mostly virtual, with two days of face-to-face interaction on campus that included the Engagement Fair as well as other on-the-ground activities, where students were divided into small cohorts to visit the campus on different days.
Made up of approximately 1,200 undergraduates—58 percent females and 42 percent males—and more than 340 admitted graduate students—70 percent females and 30 percent males—the incoming class hails from 26 diverse countries, including the United States, Canada, Spain and Brazil, as well as different parts of Africa and the Middle East such as Nigeria, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Palestine, Tunisia and, of course, Egypt. Egyptian students are joining AUC from 20 governorates across the country, including Ismailia, Alexandria, Daqahlia and The New Valley.
This year also marks the kickoff of the USAID Scholars programme, implemented and managed by the AUC, which received more than 4,000 applications from all of Egypt's 27 governorates. More than 100 new international students are studying at AUC this year, and around 3.4 percent of undergraduate students are international.
Studying translation at UAB Barcelona, Alba Fernandez came to AUC to learn Arabic.
"I am pleasantly surprised. I love the people here; I love the place. The university is amazing. I am very happy to be here," she said.
Rachel Campbell is joining the AUC from Canada to pursue a master's in teaching English to speakers of other languages.
"My experience in Egypt has been great," she said. "I've lived here for a year already, but my experience at AUC has been fantastic. The organising team has been great."
Around 200 of the enrolled undergraduates have already declared majors in sciences and engineering, while other students will navigate courses before deciding on their majors.