'London School of Economics' criticized for wanting to open Egypt branch
The news is drawing criticism from human rights activists.
September 13th, 9:25 amSeptember 13th, 9:25 amMariam Nabbout
One of the UK's most prestigious colleges, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), is set to establish a branch in Egypt.
On Tuesday, the country's ambassador to the United Kingdom Tareq Adel attended the signing ceremony of a deal with the University of London to launch the school in the New Administrative Capital (NAC).
In his speech at the event, Adel explained that "this step will reflect on the quality of education in Egypt," adding that it comes in line with the state's plan to strengthen its education sector.
Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the agreement comes as part of Egypt's 2030 vision which aims "to develop education through hosting branches of the world's top universities."
Egypt is the fifth-largest host country of UK transnational education as over 19,800 local students are currently enrolled in British-based programs.
In 2018, the UK and Egypt signed an agreement aimed at developing strategic partnerships between the latter's Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research and Britain's University of Liverpool. However, the University of Liverpool was criticized for "turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in Egypt," according to the Guardian, which made it scrap its plans of opening a branch there.
The university was meant to be housed in Egypt's new administrative capital project which has been under construction since 2015.
The futuristic city is going to feature branches of several international academic institutions – if pressure from professors and human rights organizations don't erupt – including the "University of Canada, the German University, the European University, the Italian University, the Hungarian University and the Swedish University."
Not everyone is happy about the possible LSE Egypt branch
While authorities in Egypt are quite excited about the announcement, not everyone is as beguiled by the news.
Critics of the country's current regime – which is headed by President Abdel Fatah El Sisi – were angered by the move because it "legitimizes a dictatorship" that has been heavily cracking down on activists and human rights advocates for years.
In 2018, Egyptian authorities launched a major crack down on freedom of speech, arresting a number of journalists, bloggers, and activists. In that same year, El-Sisi ratified a controversial law granting authorities the right to monitor social media users in the country.
The Egyptian government's continued persecution of reporters, political activists, and social reformers has drawn condemnation from international human rights organizations and western governments.
These were all points raised among people objecting to LSE's move to operate under El-Sisi's regime, the same that led the University of Liverpool to back down on its plans.
"Shows once again that privatized universities are terrible & follow the logic of capital""Business as usual as HE managers continue to play with repressive regimes"Many felt this was a PR move that won't do much to help develop Egypt's weak education systemNot everyone has criticized the move, though
"Focus on this beautiful thing that's happening."