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UK: LSE degrees to be offered at Egypt university, despite country's human rights abuses

Students outside Old Building in Houghton Street during Orientation Week
Students outside LSE in London, UK

The European University in Egypt (EUE) in Cairo will teach degrees under the "academic direction" of the prestigious London School of Economic (LSE) as part of a deal signed with the University of London.

The move is part of Egypt's 2030 vision to develop education, the country's Ambassador to the UK Tareq Adel said on Tuesday.

In his speech at an event to mark the signing of the deal, Adel explained that "this step will reflect on the quality of education in Egypt."

In August the University of Hertfordshire launched a branch in Egypt, which will be closely followed by Coventry University, as a result of a push by the British government and the advocacy group Universities UK.

Partnerships between British education institutions in the UK and Egypt is highly controversial given that the torture and murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni, who was completing research at Cambridge University in the UK, remains unsolved.

In 2018 over 200 academics signed a letter opposing this partnership, saying that government officials and university managers seemed to "have forgotten" what happened to Regeni and accused them of "masking human rights abuses in order to make short-term profits in the global education 'market'."

READ: Egypt's tuk tuk ban threatens thousands of livelihoods

In early 2016 Regeni's body was found dumped by the side of the road in Egypt showing clear signs of torture. Despite international condemnation the Egyptian government has repeatedly delayed investigations into his death.

On its part the British government was accused of inaction and putting business interests above human rights. After a 100,000-strong petition demanding government intervention, the British government eventually said it was "appalled" by the murder.

The letter signed by the academics questioned "the wisdom and legitimacy of this move to do business as usual with an authoritarian regime that systematically attacks research, education and academic freedom."

READ: UK bathroom giant moves to Egypt despite severe repression on workers

Academics in Egypt have been asked to get security approval before travelling and must gain approval from the Foreign Ministry to organise international conferences.

Five female staff members and 530 female students have been dismissed from universities since the July 2013 coup, according to the international rights group We Record.

The pursuit against academics in Egypt is part of a wide-scale campaign against any opposition or perceived opponents to the current regime. It is estimated that there are 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt. Under the current regime an unprecedented number have died from torture, medical neglect, or have been sentenced to death.

Note: A previous version of this news piece incorrectly stated that LSE was opening a branch in Cairo, this was amended on 13 September 2019 at 13.15 to clarify that degrees will be taught under the academic direction of LSE.

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