Egyptian Pound Floatation: Impact on AUC
Following the floatation of the Egyptian pound in early November, President Francis J. Ricciardone emphasized the University’s commitment to ensuring that no current student will be forced to drop out of AUC as a result of an inability to pay the tuition fees, as well as the University’s resilience in tough times. The Board of Trustees authorized an emergency budget re-allocation of about $1 million to cover all those who had been unable to make their final tuition payments for the fall semester before the sharp devaluation of the Egyptian pound on November 3. In addition, on an emergency basis, the University re-allocated up to $5 million from the current budget to fully cover the costs anticipated for all families needing support in facing the unanticipated additional Egyptian pounds required for the balance of this year’s tuition.
“This re-allocation in USD will protect those families, regardless of fluctuations in value of the EGP vs. USD,” said Ricciardone. While the University sympathizes with and "fully understands what the floatation means for everyone budgeting in pounds," the basis for all support by AUC must be an assessment of need, Ricciardone explained. "We at AUC understand and address this situation as a true emergency for Egypt, not only for AUC," he said. "AUC has stood with Egypt through past emergencies, from wars to revolutions, as well as economic crises. Just as Egypt has proven its resilience, so has AUC.”
In the first week since the opening of applications for the new emergency scholarships, more than 370 students have applied. The University also held community briefing and hands-on sessions informing students and parents of the detailed process and timeline of the new program and how to apply. Sohair Saad, executive director of the Office of Financial Affairs and Scholarships, noted that the new program is for full-time students with a GPA of 2.0 who demonstrate financial need, and is a separate — and additional — budget from the financial aid many students are currently receiving. While applications for the emergency scholarships are voluntary, the approximately 1,700 AUC families who are already enrolled in financial assistance programs will be automatically considered for the emergency funds, unless any of them do not want that.
From the student side, looking past measures for the current year, Amr El Alfy, president of the Student Union, noted that the main student demand is to restructure the tuition formula in order to provide equal opportunity that would enable all students to pay their fees. “This can be done by changing the tuition formula so that the dollar rate would be fixed or that we regain the old system of paying our tuition completely in Egyptian pounds,” El Alfy said. “If the tuition formula is not changed, it would not be sustainable.”
Over the past month, the AUC community has engaged in discussions on issues related to the recent floatation of the Egyptian pound, as well as the economic condition of the University, student tuition, faculty and staff salaries, and more. The University has held two forums with students and offered a Provost’s Lecture featuring faculty members and outside experts to analyze the current economic situation and expectations for the future. The administration has met with students, the Parents Association and parents of current students on a number of occasions. In the latest meeting bringing together the University’s senior leadership, the Parents Association and several other parents of current students, Aliaa Abdel Ghaffar ’90, president of the Parents Association, noted that several parents expressed deep dismay at the “concept of applying for financial aid,” citing a cultural barrier to the perception of need. Alternatively, the Parents Association requested that the University cover the difference in tuition for all students for the remainder of this academic year; rationalize its expenditure, especially from the dollar side; and increase its investment and fundraising. President Ricciardone confirmed AUC’s commitment to continue to reduce costs through prudent management, while striving for excellence in everything we do at AUC.
President Ricciardone invited parents to continue in their discussions with AUC, in particular through joining an upcoming midterm review of the 2015 - 2020 strategic plan, as a way in which to address questions of quality and other operational priorities. “We will continue to welcome advice from all members of the community — students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, and especially our donors, including trustees — as to how to ensure the highest quality of educational services at the lowest cost, in any currency,” said Ricciardone.