CAIRO: Studying for a bachelor s degree doesn t have to take four years and receiving quality international-level higher education shouldn t be limited to the rich. This is what is being said by the people bringing the Institute of Technology Australia (IOTA) to Egypt say.
I see in Egypt a feeling that you need four years to do a bachelor s [degree], whereas in Australia we allow students to work at their own pace, says Professor Mohamed Khadra, IOTA s executive chairman. Some students need six years. Some students can do the whole program in two.
The institution, which describes itself as accessible higher education, will also offer its services for costs much less than what local private universities charge. We are hoping that the total cost to the student for a whole bachelor s program will be less than $10,000, says Khadra.
The institute is designed to create quality education in the country of origin. We are opposed to the idea of education being only for the rich, [of] education being only for a certain segment of society, explains Khadra, adding that What we do is we partner with good quality colleges around the world and our objective is to allow the students to stay in their country [and] get a good quality international education at a low cost.
IOTA already operates in seven countries, including Malaysia, Kenya and Kuwait. Starting this September, operating from the Thebes Academy campus, IOTA will open its doors to Egyptian students. If the number of students gets bigger, we can go to a different campus, says Dr. Seddik Afifi, president of Thebes Academy.
The Australian and Egyptian partners signed a contract documenting their cooperation at the Australian embassy this week.
Afifi adds that getting a degree from IOTA, which offers bachelor and master degrees in business, management, information systems and information technology; makes it easier for students to travel to Australia or work there.
The institute is already accredited by the government of Australia and automatically it is accredited by all governments of the Common Wealth, explains Afifi.
What s different about this institution is that it is essentially an Australian institution teaching an Australian curriculum but doing it in Egypt, says Robert Bowker, the Australian ambassador to Egypt, Whereas the other [private universities] have long established themselves in Egypt as teaching an Egyptian curriculum or a curriculum devised here in Egypt.
IOTA won t only bring the Australian educational system to Egypt but will use its own unique instructing technique, notes Khadra. The way students learn is by cooperating to solve a problem, by having to be challenged, by having to show that they can do tasks, he explains.
So what we do is create that environment for them and we script it for the facilitator, so that the facilitator cannot but create good education, because every single minute of the class has been scripted from Australia, explains Khadra.
He notes that all instructors will be Egyptian. The objective, he adds, is to get the Egyptian tutor to be seen by his students as the fount of knowledge. Currently the IOTA and Thebes teams are working on selecting and training the teaching staff, with enrollment slated to begin in the summer.
The teaching methods focus on the practical part of the learning process. Every single session of every single subject starts off with a task, a problem that you must solve. And then you study the theoretical frame work, the theory that you need to solve that problem, says Khadra.
The contract is an opportunity for Australian education institutions to showcase their cutting-edge capabilities and it takes a formal institutional arrangement really to do that, says the ambassador.