The Supreme Council of Universities (SCU) conducted a video conference meeting on 23 June during which university presidents agreed to hold final exams for students in their final year.
The meeting, headed by Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar, concluded that the 500,000 graduates will sit for both their oral and written exams in July and August.
Also the SCU decided to reschedule exams of university students currently stuck abroad because of the coronavirus until international flights resume.
The final exams for faculties in Egyptian universities usually take place in May of each year.
“Final exams for the graduating students in Ain Shams and Alexandria universities will be held in July while those of Cairo and Helwan universities will be in August. Other universities will be announcing the dates of their exams soon,” according to Mohamed Al-Tayeb, spokesman of the Ministry of Higher Education. The exact dates are yet to be released.
Al-Tayeb noted that final year students have the option of postponing their exams until next year, without their academic grades being affected.
At the same time, he said universities are obliged to adopt the precautionary measures against Covid-19 in accordance with the standard procedures identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Egypt’s Ministry of Health, in order to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff.
As for post-graduate exams, SCU members agreed that they be held according to campus capacity and preferably not to coincide with the undergraduate exams.
Students studying for their American Diploma or IGSCE certificate, both equivalent to the local grade 12 (Thanaweya Amma), will also be given an exceptional extension for deadlines to apply for universities.
Al-Tayeb said that regarding students in the American diploma, the ministry will extend the work of the Coordination Office of Admission to Universities (tanseeq) after the two SAT 2 exams, which are scheduled for September.
The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGSCE) students who will take their exams in October/November and whose results will be announced in January, will be enrolled in Egyptian state and private universities whose regulations allow this in the second semester of the 2020-21 academic year.
The council also agreed to extend the application deadline for foreign students who want to study in Egyptian universities until 30 November. “This is because some countries have delayed their exams due to the spread of Covid-19,” said Al-Tayeb.
The decision to hold the exams for those in their final year triggered mixed reaction. Hind Othman, a graduating student at Helwan University, said “we are the luckiest students as we are going to sit for our finals in August. This means we have enough time to study and revise.”
But Nada Mohamed, a graduating student at Cairo University, was furious. “I am so worried and it is not because of the exams but out of fear of catching the virus and transmitting it to my parents and grandma who lives with us.
“My brother is in Thanaweya Amma and goes to his exams. Isn’t this enough risk, or does it have to be me and my brother risking the lives of our family?” Mohamed asked.
Her classmate Rami Omar raised another point. “Until now we do not know exactly when are we going to take the exams. We don’t have any schedule. All what we know is that we will have the exams in July,” Omar said.
Israa Ahmed is another graduating student at Alexandria University who is disappointed. “The minister should have taken this decision much earlier. Throughout this time our professors have been telling us that the minister will cancel the exams and substitute them for projects. So, we have not been studying hard enough,” Ahmed said.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 2 July, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly