My application at Cairo University: the end

This is the fourth and last part in a series of articles about applying at Cairo University. You’ll find the first three parts herehere and here.

“So, in the end, it might turn out well.” This is how I ended my last post about this seemingly endless process. The Supreme Council of Universities had given me a letter stating that I have their permission to study at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science. I naively thought that the faculty would follow the Council’s decision, and admit me to the program.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. After having spoken with the director of the faculty, I know that I won’t be able to study at Cairo University this year. She told me that if the faculty would follow the Council’s decision, it would still take almost two months before I could begin my courses. The semester will almost be over by then. So there was only one thing she had to say to me: “Come back next year.” (I’m not sure if I want to study at Cairo University anymore, but I will certainly consider it in my Plan B.)

Today I withdrew myself from the application procedures, and I picked up all the papers I had already handed in. I’m currently working on Plan B, which is actually really simple: find something else to do in the next two months. In the meantime I have to review my options, and find a new master’s program…

This is the fourth and last part in a series of articles about applying at Cairo University. You’ll find the first three parts herehere and here. 


Mijn inschrijving aan Cairo University

Voor de Nederlands-sprekende lezers zal ik mijn vorige drie stukjes even kort samenvatten.

Het is wellicht duidelijk dat mijn inschrijving aan de Universiteit van Cairo niet echt soepel verloopt. Uiteindelijk had ik alle documenten verzameld die nodig zijn voor mijn inschrijving, maar ontbrak er op een van de documenten, mijn Diploma Supplement, nog een stempel van de Egyptische ambassade in Den Haag. Na een telefoontje met de Consulaire Afdeling aldaar, besloot ik om het document op te sturen. Zij zouden het stempelen, en terugsturen naar het Nederlands-Vlaams Instituut in Cairo. Zo gezegd, zo gedaan.

Na een paar weken was mijn post echter nog steeds niet aangekomen in Cairo. Ik begon aardig ongeduldig te worden, en belde opnieuw de Egyptische ambassade. De alleraardigste dame die ik aan de lijn kreeg verzekerde mij ervan dat ze het document hoogstpersoonlijk op de post had gedaan. Ik ging ervan uit dat het ergens onderweg kwijt was geraakt, en belde de universiteit in Groningen om een nieuw Diploma Supplement te regelen.

Vrienden hebben er uiteindelijk voor gezorgd dat alles razendsnel in Cairo aangekomen is. Iets te snel, helaas… Ondertussen, net nadat iemand het nieuwe document in Nederland op de post had gedaan, werd de oude versie namelijk alsnog bezorgd. Financieel gezien niet echt handig, maar geen grote ramp. Ik kon nu eindelijk alles regelen, dacht ik.

De decaan van de faculteit waaraan ik wil gaan studeren vertelde mij echter dat ik veel te laat was met mijn inschrijving. Hoewel ik hier vrij weinig aan kon doen, kon er toch geen uitzondering gemaakt worden. Volgend jaar terugkomen, dat was haar enige antwoord.

Gelukkig is de afdeling die mijn diploma moet goedkeuren voorbereid op vertragingen. Vandaag heb ik een formulier ingevuld dat ervoor moet zorgen dat ik gewoon kan gaan studeren, terwijl de Hoge Raad voor Universiteiten twee maanden lang mijn diploma gaat bekijken. bestuderen en gaat goedkeuren. Zoals veel mensen mij hier al verzekerd hebben, komt in Egypte uiteindelijk alles wel goed.

My application at Cairo University (part III)

This is the third part in a series of articles about applying at Cairo University. You’ll find the first two parts here and here.

This morning, it became very clear to me that a lot of problems in Egypt are made and solved pretty quickly (as a lot of people kept telling me while I was losing faith). Although I’m trying to not be very optimistic, I think today I really made some progress.

I went to the Supreme Council of Universities to ask them how long “the equation” of my degree is going to take. Miss Rasha told me to make 2 copies of all the documents I have to hand in and give them to Mister Samih. When I asked her how long it would take to come to a conclusion, she replied “About two months.” Totally shocked, I mumbled “When will I be able to begin my studies here?!” She explained to me that I need to get this special document from Mister Samih stating that the Supreme Council is currently checking my degree, but is allowing me to start studying at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science anyway.

Miss Rasha didn’t made this short cut up, it’s a totally normal way of avoiding too many trouble with the university’s bureaucracy. In the mean time, the Supreme Council will be reviewing – probably not – my degree, and conclude after two months that I’m qualified to study at the requested faculty, insha’allah. So, in the end, it might turn out well.

This is the third part in a series of articles about applying at Cairo University. You’ll find the first two parts here and here.

My application at Cairo University (part II)

This is the second part in a series of articles about applying at Cairo University. You’ll find part one here.

Note: I will try to keep the rest of this ‘never-ending’ story a bit shorter, so you won’t get tired of me complaining about Egypt’s great education system.

As I wrote in my previous post, all I needed to wait for was my stamped Diploma Supplement, and then everything would turn out alright. So I was still being a little bit optimistic. I asked the Egyptian Embassy if they could send it to the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo (NVIC), so it would be safe, fast and cheap. After more than two weeks of waiting, I got impatient and called the Egyptian Embassy. “Yes? Jacob Stoop? Yes I still remember your documents. No, I already sent them two weeks ago. Yes, I’m sure…” It should have been delivered to the NVIC by now.

After these two phone calls, I could only think of this Dutch song (I’m still working on an Arabic translation, will be posted here, of course)…

Because I was sure that the Dutch Mail, PostNL, lost my envelope, I arranged for a new one to be send to Cairo. This would take some time, but there would still be a chance, however small, that I could finish my application. In the mean time, someone from the Netherlands-Flemish Institute contacted the dean of the faculty, in order to get me extra time. The dean wasn’t being very helpful, at all. After explaining the whole situation, she just said: “He is way too late with his application. There’s no way he will be able to study at our faculty this year. Tell him to come back next year.”

Right now, the missing envelope has finally arrived (I assume it has been at the Dutch Embassy for two weeks). (My embassy hasn’t been able or willing to help me at all during this period. They have a few ‘sacred’ rules, and always going by the book is one of them.)  The extra envelope was delivered by DHL this morning. The problem of the stamps has been solved, but I’m afraid it’s already too late. If even the dean of the faculty says it’s not going to happen this year, I don’t know who will be able to help me.

Tomorrow I’m going to the university’s Supreme Council to beg for this very important document called “the equation.” If they say it will take at least a few weeks, as the dean told me, I will tell them “Thanks, but no thanks.” and move on with my life.

This is the second part in a series of articles about applying at Cairo University. You’ll find part one here.

My application at Cairo University: a never-ending story (part I)

This is the first part in an endless series of articles about applying at Cairo University.

I’ve been thinking about writing a post about my application for a Master’s degree at Cairo University since I started the whole process, but I wanted to wait until I was accepted so I could write a complete story, instead of one with an open end. However, right now it seems like this application procedure will never end, so I decided to just start writing and see how this mess develops. What follows is a story about bureaucracy, procedures, two envelopes, naivety and bad luck. And maybe, just maybe, a happy end.

Back in May, after thinking long and hard about it all, I concluded that I might as well stay in Egypt and apply for a Master’s degree in Political Science at Cairo University. Some people told me I was stupid, others encouraged me to just try and see where it gets me. I embraced the latter ones, and went to the Student Affairs department for some information. They gave me a list of documents that I need to bring with me in order to apply, and told me to come back later. (Probably the other way around, as the first thing a university employee does when asked about anything, is saying: “Come back tomorrow.”)

After two months of working and saving for the tuition fees (GBP 2400, or the equivalent in Euros or US Dollars, in addition to the ‘normal’ Egyptian fees), I arrived in Cairo during Ramadan, at the beginning of August. Here’s when the naivety part comes in. Although many people had warned me of the non-productiveness of anyone, let alone university employees, during Ramadan, I thought someone would be able and willing to help me. I was wrong. The only department that was ‘working’, was the Supreme Council of Universities, which compares foreign degrees to the Egyptian education system in order to decide if the student is allowed to study at a certain faculty.

This mu3adla, or equation, appeared to be the most important step in the whole procedure, as people at the Student Affairs department kept telling me (which sounds logical, because they are not the ones involved in this step). After a few days, I had enough information to be able to upload the requested documents on the internet and pay by credit card.

I went back to the university, all optimistic because the application was relatively easy until now, to make sure my documents were received properly. Unfortunately, mister Shadi told me that I also had to hand in the original documents: “Of course, uploading copies of the original documents is not enough. Oh, and one more thing: the original copy of your degree certificate won’t be returned, so maybe it’s better to give us a legalized copy of the original.” There was also just one problem with my transcript of records: it lacked a stamp from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has offices all over Cairo especially for this purpose: stamping documents. Early in the morning I went to the office at Ahmed Orabi Street in Mohandiseen. The queue wasn’t that long, so after almost two hours it was my turn. Every single person before me, 191 in total, didn’t have a problem in getting his or her document stamped. They probably came prepared. My document, however, was not ready to be processed by the ministry because, as I could have known, it should be stamped by the Egyptian Embassy in the Netherlands first.

Of course, that poses no problem for me at all. I just call the embassy, tell them I’m going to send them a document, and that they have to send it back to me after stamping it. Only cost me LE 350 (plus EUR 35 for the stamp), but a Master’s degree at CU requires some sacrifices. The embassy received my precious mail, processed it, and sent it back. Now I only had to wait until my mail arrived…

This is the first part in an endless series of articles about applying at Cairo University.