Members of the AUC community gather at the administration building to protest the tuition fees increase - Photo from AUC student union's Facebook page
CAIRO, Nov 9 (Aswat Masriya) - The American University in Cairo's Board of Trustees decided on Wednesday to fix the deferred tuition fees due in 10 days on the previous exchange rate of the pound, after students voiced their concerns about a likely hike.
The decision came after students staged protests against a potential increase in tuition fees heralded by Egypt's decision to float the national currency last week, causing a rapid depreciation of the pound.
The pound was traded in banks at around EGP 18 on Tuesday, more than double the previously fixed exchange rate of 8.8 to the dollar.
Students who pay their tuition fees in installments found themselves days away of a payment deadline on Nov. 20, with an amount due that shot up after a steep depreciation of the Egyptian pound.
AUC policy requires students to pay their tuition fees half in dollars and half in Egyptian pounds.
In a forum organised at the Bassily auditorium on Wednesday, AUC President Francis J. Ricciardone said, "Just as we found a way through Nov. 20, we will find a way forward through the academic year. We don’t know how," student-produced newspaper Caravan reported.
Student union President Amr al-Alfy expressed his appreciation of the administration’s decision to set the deferred payment at EGP 8.8 to the dollar, but was still skeptical of the university’s approach to the semesters ahead.
Ricciardone also said that he does not know whether the 50/50 payment policy would change, adding that the university needs to find a way to reduce dollar expenditures.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the AUC Student Union expressed its disappointment, saying that the administration only offered a short-term solution and did not meet their expectations and demands.
The Student Union called on students to continue their strike at the administration building.
The AUC president stated that he is set to fly to Washington next week to raise funds for scholarships from the State Department and USAID and to meet private donors in New York.
In an email sent to the AUC community on Tuesday, Ricciardone stated that he could not predict by how much tuition fees would increase on any given date amid an environment of a floating currency.
Ricciardone alluded in his statement to the need to find both short-term and long-term solutions to address the current economic emergency, saying, "Deferring the immediate problem can satisfy no one."
Businessmen and economists predict that it will take a period of at least several months before benefits of the flotation could be felt, while inflation will continue to rise significantly affecting living standards, according to a Reuters report.
Egyptians have come under increasing pressure to make ends meet after decisions to float the pound and cut fuel subsidies among others exacerbated already existing shortages for many households.