Foundation of Cairo University

Years of the First World War anticipated a new political system in Egypt. The beginning of the war witnessed a change in the international position of Egypt, as the Ottoman authority on Egypt has been collapsed by Britain which ousted Khedive Abbas Helmy the second, imposed protection on Egypt from one side, and appointed Prince Hussein Kamel a sultan for Egypt. Thus, the whole country lived a stage of waiting unknown future until the situation is settled. The Egyptians considered that future as their independence, therefore, their estimations differed according to their social positions and interests, whereas, men of social elite of major owners who were distinguished with justice saw that self-independence and organizing the relation with Britain taking its interests into consideration is the first step in the way of achieving total independence without which sons of the middle-class, farmers, and workers would not be satisfied.    

The social elite, which occupied seats of ministry and positions of administration, saw that when the Egyptians show their good intentions towards Britain and help it throughout the war, this would be enough to convince Britain with Egypt's right of independence. Therefore, they exerted all their efforts in carrying out all what authorities of protection demanded; such as, mobilizing Egypt's economic resources to serve the military effort for the allies, mobilizing the Egyptian working power for serving transportation sector as well as engineering works at the British army, and paying the expenses of British soldiers and its allies in Egypt by the Egyptian treasury in turn of British treasury bills so that Britain might appreciate that great help and reward Egypt and the Egyptians with responding to their patriotic demands.

However, the ruling elite were sure that independence is coming without doubt as long as the Egyptian Government carried out Britain's demands. Rulers of Egypt were soothed when the authority was settled at their hands, as Hussein Roshdy Pasha remained Prime Minister throughout the war, and no change happened to the ministry's body. Thus, there was a great opportunity for the ministry to work on preparing Egypt for the stage of independence by setting the basis on which the entity of independent country, namely, economy and management without pushing those basis from the stage of studying to the stage of implementation so as not to result in a clash between the Englishmen throughout the war. Therefore, they decided to prepare the plans needed for economic and managerial policy in the era of independence, and keep them in their folders until the time of carrying them out.

That was the case of the ministry of Hussein Roshdy throughout the First World War. Therefore, the ministry formed a committee to set a general framework for an Egyptian economic policy known as ((Committee of Commerce and Industry)) on 8/3/1916. The committee included experienced Egyptian and Egyptianized businessmen in its membership. It held 38 work meeting and demanded help from a number of experts, such as; Talaat Harb. It settled on posing an important report to boost the Egyptian industry and activate commerce.

Since management of an independent state was in need for preparing technical and managerial cadres, therefore, the ministry of Hussein Roshdy Pasha paid special attention to education, thanks for the efforts exerted by Adly Yakn Pasha, Minister of Education, who added Quranic schools to Ministry of Education. Quranic schools were converted to primary schools, became submitted to a special system, and their teachers were converted to government employees who earn monthly salaries. The study at those schools was four years. Primary education was reformed, and secondary education was partially reformed. High schools also got some care, and Ministry of Education's budget was increased 790% in 1918. It was obvious that the government was working in silence to widen the infrastructure of education system. Resulting from this undeclared policy, Ministry of Education considered the idea of establishing a university that includes all high schools at that time when consignment and Protestant missionary in Egypt considered establishing the American University in Cairo, thus, Adly Yakn Pasha presented a memorandum, concerning this issue, to Cabinet of Ministers which approved it on 27/2/1917. Therefore, a committee was established to study the project, and suggested a system for the university, the bodies it is composed of, and everything related to staff members. Ismail Hasanen Pasha, Undersecretary for Ministry of Education, became the head of the committee. Members of the committee were Dr.\ Ketting, headmaster of school of medicine, Mr.\ Walton, headmaster of school of law, Mr.\ Sherer, headmaster of school of agriculture, Mohamed Ali El-Maghraby, education monitor, Mohamed Atef Barakat, headmaster of school of legal judiciary, Ahmed Brada, headmaster of school of teachers, and Monsieur Clich and Mr.\ Edgar, two inspectors of ministry. Cabinet of Ministers determined the specialization of the committee through considering sub-committees formation to design curricula of suggested university departments, general rules of enrolling in the university, systems of exams and certificates, budget needed for the project, as well as studying the possibility of taking advantage of existing buildings and the university's need for new buildings.     

In 17/11/1917, the committee presented its preliminary report to Minister of Education. The committee recommended, in the report, integrating high schools in the university, the university's council should take the responsibility of the university, posed the university's system and exams, it also recommended the necessity of hastening the establishment of government university as on national body can promote such a work that required expenses that cannot be available except for the government. The committee recommended that the university's administration should be independent and have a special budget, headed by Minister of Education, and managed by the university's president. President of the university was recommended to manage the three bodies of the university; board of directors, and scientific council, professors of departments body. At least two members of board of directors should represent Ministry of Education, provided that the university included seven departments:
.    Literature Department (included branches of education, oriental sciences, and archaeology)
.     Science Department
.     Medicine Department (included dental medicine)
.     Law Department
.     Engineering and Architecture Department
.     Agriculture and Veterinary Department
.     Commerce and Economic Department
The committee suggested that Arabic language should be the main language of teaching in the university. It also suggested establishing department for translation and publishing to transfer main references of every science taught in the university to Arabic, and to Arabize scientific terminology and encourage publishing Arabic books, provided that foreign teachers are kept in the transitional period, provided that they are gradually replaced by Egyptian teachers who use Arabic Language. The ministry kept the report of Commerce and Industry Committee without taking a decision concerning it. It also kept the report of university project committee as circumstances then did not allow taking such an important step. The First World War ended and Egypt witnessed a popular revolution that demanded independence, thus, resulting in      28/2/1922 which gave Egypt incomplete independence. Therefore, Egypt was declared an independent sovereign state; however, Britain had four preservations that deprived Egypt from the essence of independence. Egypt was declared a kingdom, and Sultan Ahmed Fuaad became the first president of a national university. As a property, the government returned to report of University Project Committee 1917 and considered carrying it out, thus, University Establishment Project was set on 1923.

 In a meeting held between Ahmed Lotfy El-Sayed and King Fuaad, the king mentioned that the government intended to establish a university that includes institutes and high schools, and that Faculty of Arts can be annexed to the Egyptian university, resulting in the king's initiative of annexing the Egyptian University to Government University. Ahmed Lotfy El-Sayed transferred the king's idea to University Administration Council which took a decision (in December 1923) of submitting Egyptian University to Public Education Ministry.

On 12/12/1923, Hussein Roshdy signed agreement with Ahmed Zaky Abul So'ud Pasha, Minister of Education. This resulted in transferring all properties of Egyptian University to Public Ministry of Education provided that:
.    Egyptian University was a public institute retaining its abstract character and manage its affairs by itself through independent quality supervised by Public Ministry of Education as it is the case in European Universities.
.    The government completed the current system, which did not include except Faculty of Arts, incorporated schools of law and medicine in the university after converting them to faculties, and incorporated Faculty of Science and other faculties as well.
.       The university's money, counting 46,000 pounds, was used in establishment.
.      Vows of the university respected its current professors and employees. As for Dr.\ Taha Hussein, they saw that he would be a professor of Faculty of Arts due to his personal case.
.        The Egyptian University's Board of Directors included a member or more of Literature Department's Board of Directors and the University's Board of Directors.     
This historical record of the University's Board of Directors was drafted by Ahmed Lotfy El-Sayed. Ministry of Education formed a committee headed by Ismail Hasanen Pasha, Undersecretary of Ministry of Education, who headed committee of the university's project in 1917 as it is mentioned before). The committee included in its membership representatives of high schools of law, teachers, medicine, and the Egyptian University to set study system of the four faculties of the university; Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Science, and Faculty of Medicine, taking into account transitional stage from high schools system to the university's system, concerning Faculties of Law and Medicine. The committee was responsible for setting a regulation that determined specializations of the University's president, its manager, its board of directors, its staff members, authorities of faculties and certificates that the university gave, study plans, and curricula.     

Ahmed Lotfy El-Sayed mentioned that those who set the university's law took into their consideration that the university's mission should be beyond limits. Thus, the text of the university's mission included all sorts of methods of education service and teaching. The second article of the law stated that the university's purview included all what is related to high education, and that the university was responsible for encouraging scientific researches as well as promoting literature and science in Egypt, whereas, the first article was about the agreement between Egyptian University and Ministry of Education, hence, we can deduce that the generation of pioneers was keen on unlocking the potentials of the university for serving education unlimitedly as a basis for the university's independence and freedom in performing its mission.       

On 11/3/1925, a decree was issued with a law of establishing Egyptian University and its system. The first article stated that a university called ((Egyptian University)) should be established, headquartered in Cairo, composed of Faculties of Arts, Science, and Medicine (which included Pharmacology branch)), Faculty of law, and other faculties to be build later. The   third article stated that Egyptian University should have abstract character that is legally subject to judiciary of national courts, and had a total qualification for litigation, it could accept donations that came from endowments, bequests, donations, and other sources, manage its mobile and fixed money, and spend it according to  provisions and text of law, provided that Minister of Education was the supreme president of the university, and that the university's manager is appointed through a decree based on the request of Minister of Education who was responsible for the university's administration in terms of scientific and administrative aspects. Minister of Education was also required to represent the university in its rights and duties. The university's deputy was appointed through an order of Minister of Education. The university's deputy was required to be a representative of the manager in all his specializations in the case of his absence. Each faculty is managed by a headmaster who was appointed by Minister of Education after the approval of the faculty's council. Headmaster and deputy of a faculty are elected by the faculty's council every year. They are selected from members, professors, and assistant professors of the faculty's council. Each member is appointed by every Ministry of special interest in the faculty's work. Each faculty's council had the right to include two members, who are familiar with the subjects taught in the faculty, to the council.

The university's council itself was composed of a manager, a deputy, and a headmaster for every faculty, and two members represented the faculty, were elected by the faculty's council every year, a member of Ministry of Finance appointed by Ministry of Finance, and five members were appointed by a decree based on a request from Minister of Education for three renewable years. The university's council was specialized in considering education and exams affairs, granting scientific degrees, investing money and revenues of the university, and spending them.

The law stated that Minister of Education was responsible for appointing professors and the rest of teaching staff upon the request of the university's council after the approval of the faculty's council provided that conditions of employment applied to all employees of the university
The seventh article stated that Arabic Language is the teaching language in the university unless the university's council decided that a foreign language was used in special conditions.     

Thus, the law restricted the activity of the university unlike what the generation of pioneers wanted, thus, the law gave Minister of Education the authority to appoint the manager, the university's deputy, staff members, the university's employees, and five members of the university's council. Besides, the law subjected staff members to laws of the state's employees. We will see later how using authorities of the minister, given to him by the law, in transferring Dr.\ Taha Hussein from the university lead to exploding university independence issue.  

Number of students of Egyptian Universities in 1925 was 2381. Thus, the budget started with a budget of 300, 000 pounds, and the university donated 90 acres for establishing faculties of Arts, Law, Science, library, student hostels, and university playgrounds. It also donated 40 acres for Faculty of Medicine and its hospital at Manial El-Rawda, and spent 138,000 pounds on building faculties of Arts, Law, and the library. Expenses of establishing buildings of Faculty of Science were 350,000, whereas expenses of Faculty of Medicine and Academic Hospital were about 1000,000 pounds.

When studying at Egyptian University started on October 1926, establishing university campus was not done yet, thus, buildings affiliated to Kasr El-Zaafran at Abbaseya were equipped to temporarily accommodate faculties of Arts and Science. On October 1929, Faculty of Arts was transferred to its building at Orman Garden, Giza, then, it was followed by faculties of law, science, and medicine. After establishing building of the university's library and affiliating special libraries, donated to the university, such as; Library of Prince Ibrahim Helmy which was continuing 16, 000 volumes, Ahmed Talaat library which continued some valuable manuscripts and rare books in Oriental and Arabic languages. The government also bought the library of German orientalist, Siebold, which continued 10, 000 volumes presented to the university's library. In 1932, collectables of the university reached 150, 000 volumes. The library continued to grow until its share of books exceeded million books as well as scientific journals and groups of papyrus and old currencies.  
The problem of formal evaluation of the university's certificates emerged. The foundation law of the university (1925) made certificates of faculties of law and medicine equivalent to certificates of schools of law and medicine before affiliating them to the university. It had also deferred action on certificates of arts and science. The matter was discussed at the Parliament, thus, a decree was issued by Cabinet of Ministers on 20/1/1930 deciding that graduates who had certificates from Egyptian University would be appointed in government vocations with 15 pounds salary. Therefore, study at the university was settled and many were enthusiastic to join the university.
In 1953, the government responded to the committee's recommendation that was formed to set basics on which the university was founded. Hence, the government decided to integrate schools of Royal Engineering, High Agriculture, Commerce, and Veterinary Medicine in Egyptian University, provided that it consider the first three faculties and affiliate school of veterinary medicine to Faculty of Medicine.

Year 1935 witnessed also issuing a number of laws related to organizing the university, its bylaws, and systems of studying at the university. The most important law was law no. 96 of year 1935. This law entered modification to the university's bodies to become as the following:
.    Manager of the university was appointed through a decree upon the request of Minister of Education
.    The university's board of directors is composed of the manager, Deputy Secretary of Ministry of Education, Deputy Secretary of Ministry of Finance, Deans of Faculties, and four members appointed through a decree upon the request of Minister of Education among the experienced in higher education affairs provided that they had practiced teaching profession in one of the university's faculties, and their appointment was three renewable years

.      The university's council was composed of the university's board of directors and two members among chairmen from every faculty elected by their council for two years

Specializations of the university's board of directors were purely administrative, whereas specializations of the university's council were confined to education, exams, donating scientific degrees, student affairs, and electing the university's vice dean. The law entered ((Dean)) title instead of ((Headmaster))

The Dean was appointing three chairmen elected by the university's council, Minister of Education was issuing a decree for appointing the dean for three years, the faculty's council annually elected the vice dean from chairmen. Law (no. 21 of year 1933) specified three scientific degrees of staff members; chairmen, assistant professor, and teacher. Teachers were required to get PhD. degree, assistant professors were required to have four years experience in teaching profession, or were in government service for twelve years, or had got Bachelor degrees fourteen years ago.   

In 1935, the law had been exposed to a modification that required innovative valuable researches from assistant professors and chairmen. All chairmanships of the university's faculties were specified by law no. 197 of year 1935. The law included discipline system of staff members including method of forming committees of investigation, system of resolving disciplinary suits, and disciplinary sanctions. Student bylaw was issued by a decree in 1933 determining that the new academic year would start on Saturday, 1st of October, and end on 15th of May. The academic year was divided into two terms and ten day mid-year vacation. The bylaw distinguished between regular students who were enrolled to get scientific degrees and associated students who had the right to follow up study without getting scientific degrees. The bylaw had also approved listening system without abiding by conditions except asking permission of Dean. Disciplinary offenses were enumerated by the bylaw; such disciplinary offenses were participating in political demonstrations and participating in political issues through newspapers. This was interpreted in light of circumstances of constitutional upheaval and practices of Ismail Sedky government as the bylaw was issued in its era.

Thus, the university completed its bylaws and systems in relation to study, staff member affairs, student affairs, and faculties' bylaws throughout ten years through which the university set powerful foundations of university education in Egypt. The university's system was modified in 1935 to expand validities of university councils, acquiring them democracy through participation of faculties' councils in selecting deans and participation of the university's council in electing the university's vice dean. The project interacted with this system as a referential framework especially when come to draft laws related to organizing universities in fifties and seventies.

CU in EGYPT - Quick Facts - Foundation of Cairo University