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GUC: Studying in Egypt - based on the German model


12,000 students study at the German University in Cairo based on the model of German technical universities

The German University in Cairo (GUC) is an extraordinary example of transnational education (TNB). 12,000 students study there based on the model of German technical universities. For many, the university is a stepping stone to an international career.

The German University in Cairo (GUC) likes to compare Professor Ashraf Mansour with a six-lane highway. “We are much more than just a university,” he says. "In addition to education and research, we also offer application, support for German industry in Egypt, economic cooperation and cultural activities." When Ashraf Mansour talks about the GUC, you can feel his enthusiasm for this innovative project, which is being carried out in cooperation with the Universities of Ulm, Stuttgart and Tübingen has been built. “We had a vision,” he says. "But we would never have dreamed that it would develop such a suction effect to this day."


Around one in ten of the GUC graduates later works in a German company

This year the private Egyptian university, at which students can graduate in 72 accredited and recognized courses, including in Germany, is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Ashraf Mansour likes to emphasize, the vision is much older. "In 1994 we developed the idea, set up a curriculum and designed subjects based on the German model that hadn't existed anywhere before," he says. “In 2001 we were able to lay the foundation stone and in 2002 received our birth certificate, so to speak, with the presidential decree. When we opened the university in 2003, we were the first German integrated university in the world - that is, a university abroad that offers both bachelor and master degrees and PhD programs based on the German model. ”A stay at the partner universities in Ulm, Stuttgart and Tübingen is one of them for most students, around one in ten of the graduates later works in a German company. Ulm University is in charge of the binational partnership.

Pioneer of transnational education

For the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the university is considered a pioneer of transnational education “made in Germany”. Here, teaching is based on the model of German technical universities; The technical focus is on engineering, applied natural sciences, pharmacy and technically oriented management. The DAAD has been supporting Ulm University since 2001 within the framework of the program “Study programs at German universities abroad” with funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The project has also been supported by the BMBF since 2015 through the program “Transnational Education - Promotion of Binational Universities”; The establishment of sustainable research cooperation with the GUC is currently being funded. Since 2006, the DAAD has also provided the GUC with scholarships from Federal Foreign Office funds.

To celebrate the anniversary, a high-ranking delegation from the DAAD management traveled to Cairo in October 2017. “Over the past 15 years, the GUC has developed into a model project for the entire region. It stands for quality and stability, even in difficult times, ”said DAAD President Professor Margret Wintermantel at the ceremony in Cairo. "The GUC programs are characterized by the fact that they combine the highest academic and scientific standards with practical relevance and a specific focus on the requirements of the job market."


Anniversary celebration in Cairo: DAAD General Secretary Dorothea Rüland, Heidrun Tempel, Commissioner in the Foreign Office for Foreign Studies, Education and Research Policy and Foreign Cultural Policy, the Egyptian Minister for Higher Education, Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar, and GUC founder Ashraf Mansour (from left to right)

The German partner universities of Ulm, Stuttgart and Tübingen have contributed to the GUC's academic profile since it was founded; The University of Mannheim and the HGB Leipzig are also involved. In addition to the ongoing exchange of students and teachers, talented students from Egypt come to the three German universities to take part in master's and doctoral programs.

Important bridging function

"A project like this thrives on motivated scientists who drive such a project with their personal commitment," says DAAD Secretary General Dr. Dorothea Rüland. “Thanks to the commitment of all stakeholders, it is possible - in an exemplary manner for the entire MENA region - to train many talented young academics who develop a strong bond with Germany and the German partner universities. As multipliers, they pass this closeness on to future generations of students and thus assume an important bridging function between Egypt and Germany. "

Almost 14,000 students have graduated from the GUC so far. Around 12,000 young men and women are currently studying there. The university itself has established five different funding programs in recent years to enable every excellent student to study regardless of their origin or financial background. "We want performance to matter, not social background," says Mansour. “We want the best. The financial resources must not be an obstacle. ”52 percent of the GUC students receive support, every second a full Excellence Scholarship.


The GUC stands for quality and stability, even in difficult times, said DAAD President Margret Wintermantel at the ceremony in Cairo

Akram Abdellatif is one of them - and the first Egyptian astronaut ever. The 29-year-old once attended a state school. In Egypt, the academic path is usually very clearly mapped out. But things turned out differently for Akram Abdellatif: In 2010, he completed his bachelor's degree at the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science at the GUC, where he learned German. Like many of his fellow students, he moved to the partner university in Stuttgart for his master’s degree in 2009. He is now a doctoral student at the Technical University of Munich and, according to Ashraf Mansour, will soon set out into space for the first time.

Platform for exchange

University founder Ashraf Mansour once received support in his academic career: in 1992, he received a DAAD scholarship for his doctorate in polymer physics at the University of Ulm, where he also received his habilitation. “When I returned to Cairo, I would have loved to take the University of Ulm with me,” he says. The method in his doctoral supervisor's group of closely interlinking experiments with theoretical models inspired him and shaped his own perception of successful science. The founding of the GUC was his dream - in 2012 Mansour realized another dream: the founding of the GUC-Campus Berlin, which offers students the same English-language courses as in Cairo and at the same time acts as a platform for international academic, scientific and cultural exchange.

Around 1,000 GUC students alone come to Berlin every year. In order to optimally prepare them for studying at a German university, the university in Cairo offers language courses. 5,500 students learn German here every year - around one in five attends the so-called “Track to Germany” program, which offers language courses at a high level for their stay in Germany.

“In the subjects we develop, our students learn skills that are important for Germany, Egypt and the whole world,” says Mansour. “Being able to speak German is a qualification that we have to ensure.” After graduation, many of the graduates are drawn to Germany, mainly because of the good prospects in the industry. This makes Germany the most popular destination country - ahead of Great Britain and the USA.

Sarah Kanning (December 5, 2017)