UC suspends study abroad program in Egypt

This post has been updated, as noted below.

Worried about student safety amid the political violence in Egypt, the University of California has suspended its fall semester program in Cairo, officials said Monday.

The move affects 22 students who had signed up to study advanced Arabic and other classes at the American University in Cairo, according to Ines DeRomana, director of health, safety and emergency response for the UC Education Abroad Program. Those students can enroll instead in UC programs in Jordan, Turkey, Morocco and Israel that also offer Arabic classes, she said.


The move comes a few days after the safe evacuation of 10 UC students from a UC Davis-sponsored summer program in Egypt and the worsening of violence in the wake of the military coup that pushed president Mohamed Morsi from power.

Eight of those UC students and the instructor’s son have come back to the United States; one student has traveled to Turkey and another to France, said Zachary Frieders, associate director of UC Davis’ education abroad center. The instructor, Noha Radwan of UC Davis’s comparative literature department, is staying on for now in Cairo, which is her native city.

The students were not in immediate danger in Egypt but officials were worried about transportation logistics if the situation suddenly worsened, Frieders said.

UC administrators have not decided whether to revive the Cairo program for the spring 2014 semester.

“We will reassess the security situation later on and determine what will happen with the spring,” said DeRomana, whose office is based at UC Santa Barbara.

Many other American colleges and exchange groups have ended their summer programs in Egypt and are considering similar steps for the fall, according to Sharon Witherell, a spokesperson for the Institute of International Education, an organization that promotes overseas studies.

Similar cancellations occurred in 2011 when then-president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in Egypt after massive protests.

A study by DeRomana’s group showed that about 1,100 American college students studied in 2012 in Egypt, down about 40% from the year before. Some students stayed away from what seemed like an unstable place, and some schools ended programs, Witherell said.

Besides UC, other schools that suspended their fall 2013 programs include Georgetown University and Michigan State.

Last month, a 21-year-old student from Maryland was stabbed to death as he watched protests between Morsi supporters and opponents in Alexandria, Egypt. Andrew Pochter, who attended Kenyon College in Ohio, was in Egypt on an summer internship to improve his Arabic and teach English to children.

[For the record, July 8, 5:30 pm: An earlier version of this post said nine UC students have come back to the United States and one traveled to Turkey. In fact, the officials later said, eight UC students and an instructor’s son have come back to the United States; one student has traveled to Turkey and another to France.]


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