Cairo University President: We need $ 2 billion to Reach 200th Global Ranking

Egypt is a secured country, and we focus on attracting foreign students

By: Wafaa Fayez

CAIRO, Sep. 8 (SEE): Dr. Mohamed Othman ElKhosht, president of Cairo University, said that Egypt is a secured country and attractive to foreign students.

In an interview with ‘SEE’, Dr. ElKhosht noted to the importance of increasing the percentage of the foreign students enrolled at the university as a mean to increase the resources of the university as well as promoting a positive image for Egypt abroad.

He explained that the university needs 2 billion dollars in order to reach the 200th ranking at the global ranking of the universities. In this regard, he mentioned that the university has launched 27 advanced academic programs in certain specializations connected directly  with  opportunities in the job market.

He mentioned that the work will start in the university branch located in 6 October city within two years, noting that it will include academic programs and not schools, something which is unprecedented across the world.

Dr. ElKhosht called upon the cultural councilors to do their job and enhance the relations of Egypt with other countries as well as inviting foreign students to Egypt.

He mentioned that he has authored 42 books. Speaking about his hobbies, he said that he liked riding motorbikes, horses as well as swimming. Dr. ElKhosht affirmed that he had dreams about becoming the president of Cairo university and that he joined the faculty of literature because he cherished to be a writer and a thinker.

Here are the full interview:

*How is Cairo University  preparing for the new academic year?

-Well, we have finished the preparations earlier, we did maintenance work  for some facilities, classrooms and students’ dormitories, as well as designing schedules for lectures.

*How many students are joining the university in the new academic year?

-We will receive 30,000 students as fresh students, where 170,000 others constituting the rest of academic years. We also have around 50,000 students joining the open university, and 35,000 for post-graduate programs.

*What is the plan of university  to increase the number of foreign students?

-The university has a policy of attracting foreign students and providing them with all suitable services. Last year, we decided to open the door before all the foreign students so that get introduced to other cultures and styles of living. We have a focus as well to empower the graduate with international standards of education and skills. This would happen through dealing with foreign students and accordingly enhancing his skills.

We have 8500 enrolled foreign students and we are focusing on this issue actually to increase the resources of the university and enhance the international aspect of the education process. In this regard, for instance, we have sent 17 students to Japan to learn the Japanese language.

*How do you evaluate the new education system plans announced by the government as well as establishing foreign universities in the new capital?

-There is a lot of significant steps taken in the education sector in Egypt, and whether improving the work of the old universities or establishing new ones, both are very important and impressive plans in addition to the emphasis being paid to the scientific research.

*When would the work start at the international branch of the university which is located in 6 October city?

-The ‘International Cairo University’ would be one of programs and courses but not schools, and this is in fact unprecedented across the global. We will focus there on specialized programs, in cooperation with big global universities. The student will be conferred a grade from the university and another international one.

The programs which will be introduced to students have direct connection with the job market.  For instance, Nano technology will be taught in cooperation with Japanese Hiroshima University. The service will start in the place in two years.

*How many advanced programs  are at the university? And would adopting such pattern help in diminishing the ‘free education’?

-We will never abandon the ‘free education’ as we considered it a right assured by the constitution, and one of the aims of the advanced programs and courses is to maintain the ‘free education’ through funding it. Therefore , expanding such programs helps to increase the resources of the university to fund the students who can’t pay for themselves. So far, we have 27 advanced program, and we have developed 23 academic courses already taught.

*What do you expect from including subjects of critical thinking and entrepreneurship to be taught in the new academic year?

-We focus on developing the students’ minds and influencing the way they think. The ‘Critical Thinking’ subject would help the student to think scientifically in solving problems and the ‘Entrepreneurship’ help students to run small projects and abandon old and rigid systems. These two subjects would be introduced to fresh students in all schools. The system of exams will be changed as well so as to include a small composition question which helps to measure the expressive skills of the student, as well as a question about the way to solve a public problem.

*How can we focus on promoting Egyptian educational tourism abroad ?

-Education is a basic factor in tourism development in Egypt. That is, when a foreign student gets enrolled in an Egyptian university and gets good accommodation, he might invite his family, and that’s why universities should encourage foreign students to visit places in Egypt. I also suggest to sign a protocol with ministry of tourism to facilitate hosting the students’ families, in addition to teaching courses for the Egyptian students who plan to travel abroad so as to promote for tourism in their trips. There is an important remark in this regard; there should be some focus on the role of the Egyptian cultural councilors abroad to boost the relations of Egypt with other countries. During my work as a cultural councilor in Saudi Arabia, I enhanced the cultural cooperation between both countries.

*What about the branch of the university which is located in the Sudanese capital? When it will be managed by the headquarter in Cairo once again?

-There was a recent meeting attended by the minister of high education and Sudanese officials, during which we welcomed the return of our service once again to Khartoum city.

*What is the message that you would like to tell to foreign students to encourage them to conduct their studies in Egypt?

-Egypt is a very secured country, the student can walk at anytime in the streets. I invite them to come and study here, where some of the graduates of our university  are now occupying prestigious positions in the World Bank, UN, etc, and many among our scientists are now publishing their work in some very advanced periodicals.

*What is the university needs to increase its global ranking in the coming years?

-We need 2 billion dollars so as to reach the 200th ranking. Everybody should be aware that the difference between us (at the 500th level) and the once before us is not about big things, but rather, they are about criteria include the ratio of students to teachers. If this ratio gets improved, our ranking will improve as well.

*Why did you join the faculty of literature and study philosophy?

-I had this will in my mind since I was about 13  years old. I wanted to be a thinker and writer, and that’s why I fits joined the literature department in the high school and then I join the faculty of literature, though my family was not convinced 100 percent.

I read a lot of books and in the same time I was playing football at Zamalek Club for the team under 15 years old. I stopped the football to focus on writing and authoring. I published my first book while I was in the first year of studying, under the title “Understanding the prayers”. Afterward, I signed a contract with a Lebanese publisher for the rest of my (following) books, until I graduated and ranked first among my class, and got appointed in the teaching staff at the faculty.

*How many books have you authored?

-42 books and 25 book analysis.

*What are your hobbies?

-I like riding motorbikes and horses as well as swimming and I do all these until now.

*What is the dream you wished to achieve?

-I have always dreamed of being the President of Cairo University.. I have always considered it a ‘sacred’ place.

*How do you deal with your family, given your busy schedule?

-I have two daughters and a boy, I deal with them simply, and we are always discussing everything altogether and I always leave them the space to express their opinions and disagree with me.

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