Egyptian Pound’s Fall Leaves Students of Foreign Universities in Trouble
After the recent drop in the value of the Egyptian pound, Egyptian students in foreign universities, at home and abroad, are facing hard times in paying tuition fees, especially fees set in U.S. dollars and other foreign currencies.
Hard currency has become scarce in Egypt, and conserving dollars has become a major challenge for students after the Central Bank of Egypt changed the monthly maximum spending limits for credit and debit cards, which students abroad used to use to pay tuition fees before.
While the Central Bank said that education and medical treatment expenses are excluded from the new limits, Egyptian students told Al-Fanar Media it was difficult to benefit from this exception when they try to procure money for educational expenses from Egyptian banks.
A business student at an American university described how he had struggled to obtain dollars through a government bank for educational purposes, to no avail. He said he submitted an application about two weeks ago, with documents proving his need for hard currency to pay his tuition fees. Bank officials told him his request would be decided within 48 hours. Once that period had passed, his request was rejected without explanation, he said.
A Struggle to Pay Tuition in Euros
Another student, Abdulaziz Adel, who is pursuing a master’s degree in business at the University of Maastricht, in the Netherlands, said he used to save 200 euros every semester, through legitimate means, from the money for his tuition fees, provided that he paid the remainder in Egyptian pounds.
“Earlier in 2022, things were not easy; the crisis then hit its climax in the last quarter of that year. I have to go to the parallel market to obtain the amount of euros I need to pay my tuition fees.”Abdulaziz Adel, a business master’s student in the Netherlands.
“Earlier in 2022, things were not easy,” he told Al-Fanar Media. “The crisis then hit its climax in the last quarter of that year. “I have to go to the parallel market to obtain the amount of euros I need to pay my tuition fees.”
“I hope the authorities will find practical solutions to the crisis,” Adel said. “I hope they will raise the monthly withdrawal limits for students abroad.”
Nader Nabeel, whose daughter studies in Malaysia, is facing the same dilemma in securing her tuition expenses in dollars. He told Al-Fanar Media that he had set up an account in dollars in an Egyptian bank so he could send the required amounts to his daughter. “However, I faced difficult procedures in depositing to the account if the dollar was provided from an outside the bank,” he said. “Still, the bank offers no other solutions.”
Nabeel stressed that he had provided all the required documents to get his daughter’s tuition fees in dollars. “Still, with the recent exacerbation of the crisis, the required amounts are not provided in full, but rather a small percentage,” he added. “This increases the burden for my daughter abroad, and my family in Egypt.”
Alternative Study Plans
Kareem Ahmed, a business master’s student at the American University in Cairo, considered postponing his studies until officials find practical solutions to the crisis. “I used to provide dollars through banks or exchange offices to pay tuition fees, after submitting the required documents,” he said. “Today it has become difficult.”
A customer service officer at the National Bank of Egypt said the procedures banks use for providing foreign currencies for study purposes are subject to the policies of the Central Bank. Students can initiate a request by email, specifying the amount they need and including documents proving they are studying in a university that requires foreign currency. Once the bank receives this e-mail, the request will be decided by approval or rejection, the official explained.
The bank official, who asked to remain anonymous, said requests were evaluated individually. Some requests were approved within 48 hours, and others were rejected for various reasons, he said.
Mostafa Badra, an Egyptian economist, said he expected a breakthrough in the crisis after the Egyptian Cabinet announced the release of a backlog of goods that had accumulated in the ports, a measure that required the government to collect billions of dollars.
“Many Egyptian universities provide good education to students,” he told Al-Fanar Media. “Some of them occupy advanced ranks in international rankings, which may represent alternative solutions to the crisis of providing foreign currencies for students studying abroad.”
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