During the past years, significant investment in university education in Egypt has flourished through the establishment and opening of several private and investment universities in the Administrative Capital and new cities. These universities and institutes with high fees promote themselves through advertisements broadcast by media and social networking sites or posted in the streets, on bridges, and in other places. Private universities in Egypt always raise controversy as some see it as a way to seize what is in the pockets of parents. They see it as no more than an investment project, aiming to obtain an enormous amount of profits, regardless of its graduates’ level. Others consider it an opportunity to replace the student who was not fortunate in getting a good score, which qualifies him to enroll in public universities.
Despite the steady increase in the number of private universities recently, the high costs of studying in them are a stumbling block for many students, who dream of joining the top colleges, despite not having the grades. The volume of private education investments in Egypt exceeded EGP 2 billion ($112 million) annually, after the government unleashed and opened the door for business people, and allowed them to obtain private university licences without oversight or controls. University degrees were granted to whoever pays. Many parents believe that these universities are intended for children of individuals and of high society only as a form of social prestige and a visa to obtain suitable work. The confusion will be the fate of the private universities’ regular student upon graduation, especially if he cannot find a place in the labour market for many reasons.
The costs of scientific colleges such as medicine, pharmacy, and engineering are between EGP 40,000 and 50,000 ($2,200 – 2,800) in the first semester. The costs in technical colleges range between EGP 35,000 and 50,000 ($2,000-2,800). The continued establishment of new private universities and the increase in their expenses coincides with warnings issued many times for many years by experts about the danger of these universities, including the fact that the curricula contain errors and the absence of the supervisory role of the Supreme Council of Universities.
Damages and risks
Various criticisms have been issued by experts on the negatives of private universities:
- The government provides these universities with almost free land.
- These universities were established by Republican decisions, which gave them the immunity of public universities.
- These universities planned for themselves and drew their education plan outside the framework of the state.
- Lack of laboratory and human university tools to achieve acceptable education.
- The high costs for tuition, reaching EGP 100,000 ($6,278) annually for the student.
Most professional syndicates, especially doctors, pharmacists, engineers, and physiotherapists, refuse to register private university graduates. The trade unions announced that they would not recognise them or accept their registration in the union’s schedules except with special conditions to ensure the quality of practice, as well as facing the burden of increasing the number of graduates. According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics report, the number of graduates from private universities recorded an increase of 123.5 per cent during the past four years.
The number of graduates increased to 23,700,000 graduates in 2018 compared to 10,600 graduates in 2016, up 13,100 graduates.