With technology taking over the world in current decades, education remains one of Egypt’s main challenges in meeting the industrial market. Lack of good quality education, practical training, and relying on outdated taught theories as educational sources, are the common struggles facing millions of graduates who eventually find themselves unfit for international market requirements.
With the aim of fighting an educational system that brings the world an untrained, poorly educated graduate, El-Sewedy Education, an Egyptian education investment and management company, opens its doors to students starting from the 2019 academic year.
Knowledge Hub is El-Sewedy Education’s multidisciplinary project, consisting of different multinational universities located within the same campus. In their Egyptian campus, the internationally accredited universities offer students the chance of being taught the same curriculum students are taught in their native countries.
Coventry UK is the first university to sign the partnership agreement with the group. The hub offers students an education which meets international standards, through techniques that are being used for the first time in Egypt.
Daily News Egypt interviewed Ihab Salama, CEO of El-Sewedy Education to discuss further El-Sewedy Education’s new project, its goals and its future plans, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
Why did El-Sewedy Group decide to open a new university in Egypt?
The idea came when we started a corporate social resposibility activity four years ago, called El-Sewedy Technical Academy, which basically focused on vocational education. The programme accepts students after grade nine and teaches them a German curriculum which qualifies them to meet market needs.
From this day, we witnessed the impact on the community, and presently we feel that what Egypt really needs currently is the youths’ good quality of education. The country is in a deep need of well-educated generations, and education is no longer about the theoretical part, it has become more of how you connect with the current industry, as well as how you receive your practical training.
What does your university offer students differently?
We offer students a different model which is called the knowledge hub. The idea of that model is to attract several universities from all across the globe, each in their area of strengths, in order to offer their degrees in different specialties.
The campus is also designed in cluster areas in which technical studies’ students from different universities are combined together in one area. So, there’s an area dedicated to engineering school from all universities, while another is allocated to medical studies, and a third for social sciences and arts.
The beauty of these clusters is not only the degree you get from each university, but the inter-disciplinary connection you can create between all these universities.
Moreover, we provide students with a new educational system that is called the flipped classroom type of education, which is being offered for the very first time in Egypt. This system is different from the ordinary teaching system in which the professor stands in the middle of the classroom, dictating to students what to learn, and they have to memorise what they are being told; rather it is more about interaction, collaboration, and integration.
The flipped classroom system focuses on teaching students how to work in groups, encourages them toward critical and analytical thinking, as well as problem solving. Students in that system get their training ahead and use the group work to come up with a solution to the problem they have, which eventually teaches them what they need to learn. We believe this will change the landscape of education in Egypt.
How do you plan to overcome the challenge you have with several other private universities in Egypt?
I do not see any challenge. We do not compete with private universities in Egypt. Our model is completely different than all of theirs, as we are opening a university branch in Egypt which will host in one campus several world accredited universities.
As a start, we are opening a branch for Coventry, a British University in Egypt. As an academic partner, they come with their curriculum, teaching techniques and methodologies, quality assurance and control. So, El-Swedey University does not offer its students a degree, the graduation certificate they get is from Coventry University.
Our students will be registered in Coventry University and the certificate they get holds the same accreditation as students who graduate from Coventry, the UK, which is a total different aspect than private universities.
However, many of private universities’ certificates in Egypt are internationally accredited, what is the difference your university offers regarding that?
All private universities in Egypt grant students local degrees.
These universities offer an accredited curriculum.
The curriculum itself can be accredited worldwide because it is similar to other taught curriculums despite being improved locally. Nonetheless, our students are officially considered Coventry graduates or any of the signed-with universities’ graduates.
Since you are opening a branch from mother universities in Egypt, will the teaching staff be from Egypt or from the mother country?
All the heads of the departments will come from the mother branch and will be supported by professors from the same university as well.
However, a part of our focus as well is not only the students, but also to develop the way of teaching for Egyptian professors. So, we will provide them with training programmes in order for them to match the criteria of the mother universities, and upgrade their teaching methods.
That way we are benefiting the society from both ways: the students and the professors.
When are you planning to open you doors to students?
We are opening our admission next year. September 2019’s academic year will be ready to host students.
Where is your campus located?
It is located at the New Administrative Capital. It is a piece of 50 acre land, and we are only opening the first phase of it by the new academic year, with a five- to seven-year expansion plan.
What are the study fields the university is offering in the first year?
Engineering with all its fields and programmes, all the computing courses and media.
Will there be any exchange programmes between Egypt and the mother universities?
Yes definitely. The students have the right to go for a semester or a year to the mother university and vice versa. They are eventually all registered at the same university, yet different branches.
What is the tuation fee range of Knowledge Hub?
We have not yet announced that, but the fees will be within the top fee range of private universities in Egypt.
At the end of the day, we are offering a different education model in which there is a partnership with a foreign university and several professors coming from all across the globe to teach your students.
Are you offering scholarships?
Yes. We will offer an athletic scholarship and top students will be released from fees.
Will you offer post-grad studies?
Definitely, but not from the first year. We are also planning to open our doors for masters students.
The campus will also be a hub for entrepreneurship to encourage students to open their own startups and support the innovation of entrepreneurship.
From your point of view, what are the main challenges facing you in the Egyptian market?
To be honest, we have substantial support from the government from all aspects in order to make this a successful experience.
We are mainly facing challenges in schools with the type of education students get. However, we will look into it, as it is our role to bring these students up to the highest level in order to match the type of education we are offering them, which will later on make them meet the criteria the employment market needs.
Another challenge we are facing is to deliver this new education model to both students and parents for them to understand the difference between a private university and a branch campus.