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Missions of the National University

Since its foundation, the university was keen on keeping Arabic as a teaching language in the university, as well as providing staff members with sound scientific preparation in order for the university to become dispensed with foreign professors, and to provide them with chances to play roles in defining modern knowledge, therefore initiated a private mission of Egyptian students chosen by technical committee through examination, provided that they commit themselves to work        in serving the university after obtaining  scientific degrees and returning to Egypt.

The first mission included Mohamed Hasan and Mohamed Sadek Gohar to study mathematical science at Cambridge University, Tawfik Sedhom to study natural science at London, Sayed Kamel to study history and language at Sorbonne, Mohamed Tawfik El-Sawy to study literature at Sorbonne, Mahmoud Azmy to study political and legal science at Sorbonne, Mahmoud Fahmy to study Philosophy at the same university, Hasan Fouaad El-Diwany to study Physiology at University of Lyon at France, Mohamed Walei-el-din to study natural history and health science law at University of Lyon, and Mohamed Kamal to study Forensic Medicine and Chemistry at University of Lyon.
Those students were chosen from three high schools; engineering, law, and medicine. Some dignitaries donated and decided to be responsible for study expenses of those students. The university appointed a supervisor from English professors to follow-up examining members of London's mission, and other French professors to follow-up members of France's mission. Some dignitaries who dispatched their sons at their own expense to study at these two countries demanded that their sons join the mission to benefit under the supervision of the University with continuing to afford schooling for their sons.
When the university passed through its financial crisis, foreign supervisors accepted to perform their work voluntarily, the supervisor was making reports for the university about students' progress in study, and students had to write reports for the University about their situation periodically, otherwise they were signed under penalty by deducting a percentage of their salaries. Students were also deprived from marrying during the study mission.

Members of the mission had to get approval from the university's council on their theses before presenting them to the foreign university where they were studying. After finishing writing the theses, they are not allowed to present them to their universities unless the Egyptian university deemed their validity. This decision was taken after the clamor raised around Mansour Fahmy's thesis about ((Muslim women)) which some saw that it contains offences to the Islamic religion. This member had to take over teaching at the university for a period of ten years, not least; otherwise, he had to pay to the university what it spent on his education.

When the First World War the university pulled its emissaries from Europe to improve its financial conditions and be enabled to bring them back to study at their universities. The university was able to bring them back thanks to some financial contributions that were obtained by the university.  Then the university turned to a strange direction as Prince Ahmed Fuaad, the university's president managed to obtain four scholarships from the Italian Government to teach Egyptian children in Italian schools until they reach the highest scientific degrees then return to serve the university. He also made the same thing with the French government and got three scholarships to teach three Egyptian children, and the same thing with Austria. Therefore, ten children were sent in three missions for the Egyptian University four children to Italy and three to France and Austria and that was in 1910.

However, the experience failed because of the difficulties that faced those children abroad and the inability to follow-up study and trouble aroused by their parents to the university because they were not reassured to the style rearing their children abroad. Thanks to connections between Prince Ahmed Fuaad and King of Italy and some European politicians, the university's library obtained many books as a gift from Italy, France, and Britain. Italy was more generous in notable contribution for the university library, followed by France. Therefore, the university's library got the main references, maps, copies of general artistic works, musical notes and periodicals without costing the university budget. When Prince Ahmed Fuaad requested this, Belgium did the same and tools and devices of Chemistry and Physics came as a gift from King Amanuil the third, king of Italy. Some Egyptian intellectuals and their families competed in presenting endowments of books to the university, such as Mohamed Wasim Bek, a judge at Egypt Mixed Court, Hamza Bek Fahmy, Mohamed Lotfy Gomaa, Shafik Bek Mansour's family, Yehia Pasha Mansour's family, Ibrahim Bek Mustafa's family who was the headmaster of Dar El-Ulum, and Abdul Ghani Bek Shaker. Thanks to those endowments that were presented by foreign countries, individuals, and Egyptian families, the nucleus of the university's library emerged.

Despite the financial crisis that the university passed through throughout the first world war, the passive attitude that the government showed towards the university, and abandoning its presidency by Prince Ahmed Fuaad in 1913, the university continued to perform its mission under the presidency of Hussein Roshdy Pasha who kept his presidency to the university after taking over premiership in 1914. He abandoned the presidency of the university in 1916 to Prince Youssef Kamal, however, he returned to the presidency in 1917, and remained in his position until the university merged in the government university in 1925.

The national university, since its emergence until being converted to a government university, managed to provide suitable atmosphere to academic education and achieve scientific and cultural communication between itself and high schools. Therefore, students of high schools joined the university as well as their theoretical study at their schools. Prominent teachers of Dar El-ulum and El-Azhar were mandated to teach at the university. The university also got assistance from scientific competencies of men of law and justice from outside high schools.
Free study system helped in achieving scientific and cultural communication through providing chance of listening to lectures in any sort of knowledge. Therefore, halls of lectures were crowded with students who came to get further knowledge without aspiration to get scientific degree. The university's library also played an important role in achieving this communication. At the first phase, the university established rigorous rules of secular, rational knowledge; this was shown in Saad Zaghloul's criticism of Ahmed Zaky's sermon, in which he exaggerated in talking about Islam's glory, at the occasion of inaugurating the university, Saad Zaghloul considered that incompatible with the occasion of inaugurating the university which has no religion, but science. A look to the programs of study at the university makes it obvious that the university's trend is merely secular and that it is committed to instill values of science and scientific thinking among its students and train them on the assets of scientific research and its curricula at the hands of Egyptian and foreign teachers.
This does not mean that the secular attitude of the university was not met by criticism from conservative elements; Egyptian press was full of articles that attacked the university and invited to make the study ((Islamic)), and other articles that questioned the feasibility of this type of education in Egypt, however, the university has been able be careful not to get involved in a clash with the conservative trend which may have cost the university its very existence.
This scientific and cultural communication that the university achieved in the first phase of its lifetime and this accumulation of academic experience made the National Egyptian University a corner stone to establish a government university in 1925.



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