University to pull study-abroad students from program in Egypt

By Aaron Guggenheim, Managing News Editor
Published July 3, 2013

Following widespread protests and the deployment of tanks and troops in many of Egypt’s major cities, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was forced to step down from power by the Egyptian military on Wednesday.

With the current political instability in the country, the University decided early Wednesday afternoon to suspend its study abroad programs in the country and bring its students back to the United States.

Seven undergraduates and one graduate student, who were halfway through a two-month program offered through the Central for Global and Intercultural Studies at American University in Cairo, had classes suspended on Monday and are in a secure residence hall outside the city. They will be escorted to the airport.

James Holloway, University vice provost for global and engaged education, said in a University press release that the University was acting to protect the well-being of the students.

“The safety of our students is always important,” said Holloway. “No one wants her summer-abroad experience cut short, but the uncertainty of the situation in Cairo in the days ahead made this decision very clear for us.”

University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said University officials in conjunction with other agencies, including the University’s insurance provider for study-abroad travel in the Middle East, decided that evacuating the students was the best available option.

“It is just a little too unsettled there and we decided that it would be best to return them (home),” Fitzgerald said.

Kim Conye, senior adviser for international health, safety and security in the Office of the Provost, said in a press release that the University has been in “close contact with the students.”

Fitzgerald said he was confident in the student’s safety as the University has a long-standing relationship with American University and has set procedures to deal with situations like these.

“We are very confident in that process,” Fitzgerald said.

However, Fitzgerald could not specify when the students would be out of Egypt. He said they were still working out the details to evacuate the students and would most likely stop at interim destination before returning to the United States.

Other University students studying in non-University programs will be moved to locations in other countries.

There are currently two students studying in Alexandria with the Arabic Flagship Program who are scheduled to leave Friday for Meknes, Morocco for the duration of the academic year and three students in Cairo studying Arabic in a program operation by American-Mideast Educational and Training Services who will be moved to Amman, Jordan for the remainder of their program.

Fitzgerald said those in charge of those programs decided, in light of the uncertain situation in Egypt, to also move their students out of the country.

The University is still in the process of contacting a University doctoral student conducting field research in Egypt and another faculty member who is traveling in Egypt.