AUC’s Chemistry Undergraduate Program Receives Accreditation

BY MARAM SHALABY AND MASOOMA KADHEM

The chemistry program at the American University in Cairo (AUC) has been accredited by the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) in January 2011, making it the first internationally accredited chemistry program in Egypt.

The Canadian Society for Chemistry is a non-profit technical association, which has the right to accredit different universities’ chemistry programs for their high academic status in the field.

The Chemistry department contacted the CSC a couple of years ago.

“What we’ve thought of at the department is that we’d like to get it accredited internationally. The Canadian Society is one of the prestigious academically. The [chemistry] department was in contact with them so we started the process and got it,” said Dr. Adham Ramadan, chair of the Chemistry Department.

“They requested a number of documentation and we worked on it in the department and then we set up a time for an accreditation visit. They visited us in October 2011 for three days where they looked at all the documentation and came back with questions clarifications, and visited some facilities, attended classes the core, met with the Dean, the Provost, the President and prepared an accreditation report. The process wasn’t hard, but it was lengthy,” said Ramadan, when asked about the process for the accreditation.

He added that the department did not have to change anything in the program, because it satisfied all the accreditation’s requirements and that shows how strong the program is.

“The accreditation of this program benefits the student in different ways but most importantly in 2 ways: First of all, now the students graduating from this chemistry program meet very high international standards and secondly they get accepted in chemistry graduate programs outside of Egypt to pursue their career in this field,” added Ramadan.

Approximately five to ten individuals graduate with a bachelor’s in chemistry every semester. Ramadan stated that although the number of chemistry students is low, the program has dedicated students “who are really interested in chemistry and who do very well when they graduate.”

He hopes that the newly acquired accreditation will attract more students to the major.

“This accreditation by CSC, which applies rigorous international standards, will open up doors and opportunities both for the students to pursue their careers internationally and for the department to cooperate with other accredited programs abroad,” clarified Adham Ramadan.

Fatma Ashour, head of the chemical engineering department in Cairo University, explained that the reason why their program is not yet accredited is due to the number of students enrolled. The association is not aware that the large number of students is normal, because it is a public university.

“We [the chemical engineering department in Cairo University] are on the way for the accreditation,” said Ashour.

Thus it is clear that one of the things that helped the chemistry program at AUC get accredited is the small number of students that graduate from this major.

“Although there is a small number that gets enrolled every semester in the chemistry major, personally I think that this major is very strong and that it opens the door to a lot of job offers” said Iman Attiya, a chemistry senior.

“I think it’s good that the AUC Chemistry department is recognized by a more devolved country. One of their many goals is to strengthen their academic ties with other universities. They probably also want to expand their work force in the oil industry, because of their huge discovery of oil in the region,” said Ahmed Adel Shehata, transfer chemistry junior.

The students that are graduating from this program will receive certificates from CSC with their AUC degrees, making their degrees more credible.