Higher Education Min.: Foreign Students to Boost Egypt’s Soft Power

By: Gehan aboElElla

CAIRO, Dec. 5 (SEE) – Minister of Higher Education Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar stated that providing an excellent all round education to foreign students has become an industry that many countries count on, and for Egypt, it’s one of the soft power sources.

His talk came during a visit to the Central Administration for Foreign Students’ building, located at Nasr City, to inaugurate a construction development phase.

The minister was accompanied by a number of ministers, ambassadors and cultural counselors at some Arab and African countries who were attending the inauguration in a tour at the building.

A club, Arab language center, scholarship and admission office, a branch for Bank Misr, accommodation, nationalities and immigration office, all included in the building.

Abdel Ghaffar noted that the strategic plan of the ministry involved increasing the number of foreign students, which in turn, boosts the soft power of Egypt in the Arab African and international basis.

“This is especially true, as Egypt has very efficient research and educational capacities but also the trust of Arabs and Africans,” he added.

He explained that there are around 67,000 foreign students enrolled at the Egyptian universities and educational institutes including Al Azhar University. Egypt wants to increase this number to 90,000 by the year 2020 and then double this number by 2025 especially by those coming from the Arab and African regions as well as Europe.
Furthermore, the minister affirmed that all procedures have been taken to attract foreign students to come to Egypt, such as automating the financial services as well as solving any of their problems with universities.

“The global economy is based now on knowledge industry.. The US is topping the educational ranking with regard to the number of foreign students, hence earning annually about $ 42 billion, followed by the UK in the same manner,” Dr. Abdel Ghaffar explained.

Abdel Ghaffar noted that the building development involved applying the newest electronic systems as well as expanding the electronic archive which all enhance an electronic management of the services that ensures efficiency, accuracy and speed.

He further noted that there is a certain unit of serving foreign students at each university and that there is a hotline to receive any complaints or inquiries from them.

On other hand, the minister hailed the participation of the civil societies’ organizations as well as businessmen in this development work. In specific he expressed gratitude for ‘Sawiris Foundation for Social Development”, “Red Sea Company for Construction and Development”, Bank Misr, as well as ministries of interior and communications, faculties of Applied Arts and Fine Arts.

On his part, Engineer Samih Sawiris affirmed the role of businessmen in serving their society and achieving developmental goals, as well as being role models for people at NGOs, so as to achieve the social justice by the end.

It’s worth noting that the central administration for foreign students consists of 4 floors; it costed 15.2 million EGP.
It also includes a unit to serve foreign students in terms of health insurance, accommodation and academic guidance. An Alumni for foreign graduates of Egyptian universities is to be formed also.

The building consists of a ground floor and three floors on an area of 2090 square meters. The ground floor includes a social club that includes a meeting room for student activities and a library, two study rooms, internet cafés, billiards and table tennis. And the first floor includes a center for teaching Arabic language for non-native speakers and 9 classrooms with a total capacity of 142 students. In addition, there is a language lab for 32 students, a digital library linked to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the Egyptian Knowledge Bank as well as administrative offices.

The building also includes an office to facilitate the renewal of residence and visas, as well as a tourist company to provide accommodation and receiving students at airports, and provide medical insurance, and insurance against travel accidents, as well as booking tickets.
The third floor has been renovated to include 52 administrative staff offices with two meeting rooms, in addition to modern electronic systems that assist employees in automating administrative work and electronic archiving.

The inauguration was attended by Dr. Hisham Arafat, minister of transportation, Dr. Tarek Shawky, minister of Education, Dr. Elsadek Elmahdy, Sudanese minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. Cairo Governor Khaled Abd Elaal, HEad of Sawiris Foundation Engineer Samih Sawiris were also in attendance along with number of heads of universities, Arab and African Ambassadors and other distinguished guests.

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