Egypt tailors reforms on UK model

A government delegation has been inspired by British funding bodies

September 25, 2014

The Egyptian government is looking largely to British models in planning major reforms to its higher education system, following the nation’s dramatic series of revolutions.

Earlier this month, Ashraf Hatem, secretary general of the country’s Supreme Council of Universities, came to the UK on a week-long fact-finding trip organised by the British Council. He was accompanied by the rectors of three Egyptian universities.

“We are now in a state of total reform, and we are putting together a new strategy for 2015-20,” Professor Hatem told Times Higher Education.

“We need a new law on higher education, since the old one dates back to 1982.”

The Supreme Council is tasked with overseeing Egypt’s 24 public universities, regulating higher education and accrediting foreign qualifications. To gather information for the reform process, the delegation visited the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Universities UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, among other bodies.

The current funding regime for Egyptian universities, Professor Hatem said, needs to be radically overhauled: “As long as the Treasury is giving the money, it has too much control.”

Furthermore, he continued, a system whereby funding depends on factors such as staff numbers means that “the Treasury gives money to a university because it is a big university, not because it is a high-performing or well-ranked university – that is something that must change”.

On seeking a way to fund and regulate universities without direct control from the government, Professor Hatem said: “I think Hefce is what we have been looking for for a long time.”

Something similar applies with regard to research funding. The 2014 Constitution lays down that this needs to increase from 0.2 per cent of gross domestic product to 1 per cent within three years. In looking at how this should be allocated, Professor Hatem believes that “the model of the research councils and Hefce funding research at the same time is very good – the competitive way and the rankings way”.

The end of the Egyptian delegation’s fact-finding trip was marked by the signing of a memorandum of agreement with the UK chancellor, George Osborne, to launch the Newton-Mosharafa Fund.

Part of a wider programme to support science and innovation partnerships with emerging countries, the fund will receive contributions of £2 million from each of the governments, to be spent on capacity-building and collaborative research over the next five years.

At its heart will be a series of joint projects addressing what Sherif Hammad, Egyptian minister for scientific research, described to THE as “the nagging problems of Egyptians” relating to water management; renewable energy; sustainable food production; cultural heritage and affordable healthcare.

Mr Hammad, who also came to London for the signing ceremony, said that he hoped that greater “hands-on industrial exposure to UK partners” would lead to more spin-offs and small businesses and so “a return of investment in our GDP” while also helping to change the country’s “mindset towards scientific research”.

To build on this, Professor Hatem would like to see “a partnership with the whole HE system in the UK. That is why we are suggesting that 2015 should be the Year of UK-Egypt Higher Education.”

matthew.reisz@tesglobal.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

International Student Support Assistant YORK ST JOHN UNIVERSITY
Senior Lecturer: Architecture (Cultural Content) NORWICH UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS
Head of Department of Physics ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY
Research Assistant LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest