Days after a military coup deposed Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s democratically elected leader, three GW students exited the country. An additional three George Washington students had left earlier in the summer, while one student remains in the nation. Five of the students were pursuing non-academic internships, while two were studying in the country.
George Washington Today spoke with Donna Scarboro, associate provost for international programs, and Rob Hallworth, director of the Office of Study Abroad, about the students, the future of programs in Egypt and how the university evaluates the risk of international education program locations.
Q: What is the status of GW students in Egypt?
A: At the time of the military coup last week, there were four GW students pursuing internships in the country. We recommended that they leave and offered to arrange transportation via commercial flights for those who wanted to be evacuated.
Three students left the country Friday and safely arrived in the U.S. and Jordan. A fourth student remains in Egypt as part of a student group housed at the American University of Cairo.
Q: How does the university assess the safety of study abroad program locations?
A: We evaluate the safety of prospective locations of our students by consulting multiple sources, including the U.S. State Department and, in some cases, other countries’ governments. We consult GW faculty experts, who have deep knowledge of conditions in countries and regions around the world, and who often know more about the political shifts and other conditions on the ground than any other sources available.
Ultimately, we rely most heavily on the information available to us through our insurance provider, which makes detailed analysis of risks of all kinds available to the whole GW community. Our processes require students to review the publicly available sources as well, whether their destination is considered high risk or low.
We also require that students studying abroad sign up for travel alerts from the U.S. Department of State, which are designed to give travelers up-to-the-minute information on conditions that might affect the safety of citizens in a given country or city.
Q: Are GW students planning to study in Egypt this fall? If so, how will the university evaluate whether to proceed with those plans?
A: We have eight undergraduate students and three graduate students currently planning to study in Egypt this fall. The same process that was used to determine what should happen with students there this summer will be used to evaluate the feasibility for the fall students. The start date is not until late August, so there is some time to see how the situation develops before a decision is made.