A number of exchange students who were repatriated during the January 25 Revolution and foreign some faculty say they are confused by AUC’s evacuation and refund policies.
Barely unpacked as they looked forward to the Spring semester, many international students left the country due to a lack of security and a breakdown in order in late January, and following directives from their respective universities.
Some were flown to Europe were they either awaited the situation to stabilize or for connecting flights to their home destinations.
“During the time of the Revolution, an evacuation plan was carried out,” Amal Moustafa Saleh, director of the office of International Student Affairs (ISA), told The Caravan.
“The University was held responsible for booking commercial flights, taking study abroad students to the Zamalek dorms, and sending cars to the students in order to take them from their homes to the airport.”
A large number of students expressed their concerns about the impact of the crisis on their finances. Many had to pay for airfare and accommodation, and several had already paid their tuition.
Saleh explained AUC was offering students withdrawal and refund options for their tuition as part of the university’s general refund policy.
“The policy states that they [the university] will give money back for tuition, money spent towards living in dormitories, and trips they [study abroad students] have taken,” she said.
Travel office director, Mourad Rizkalla, denied any knowledge of a re-imbursement policy relating to flights and hotel accommodation for students claiming the “issue has not yet been discussed.”
But American exchange student Evelyn Casteel said she got a full refund from the university for her four-day hotel stay in Athens, as well as for her ticket to leave the country during the final week of the 18-day uprising.
Casteel told The Caravan her mother told her she could get her money back after she received a detailed e-mail from administration. The university, the student said, never informed students that such a refund option was availabile.
Special Project’s Manager Rana Sameh El-Harty said only tickets paid for during the evacuation process would be compensated.
Saleh, however, explained that AUC would not be paying for any such expenses.
“The university does not deal with issues concerning international students’ refunds. The insurance company does,” Saleh said.
She added that all international students at AUC have a mandatory insurance policy that covers “medical, safety, and security emergencies.”
Journalism professor Justin Martin, who left the country after the escalation of events in Egypt, also said he had not received any official statement from the university about refunds.
Martin added he was dissatisfied with AUC’s reaction and believes that, “the university handled things so questionably that based on that fact, I don’t expect to be reimbursed.”
Martin added that when he left through an US embassy arranged flight on the seventh day of protests, the university had not yet contacted him, nor had it provided any guidance or help during the evacuation process.
The exact number of international students that left AUC during the revolution has not yet been determined. “The university does not have the actual number of the students that left, but all faculty members have returned. The figures will be accurate after the drop and add period,” said Rizkalla.