History of Establishment of GUC:
The journey of the establishment of the GUC, is the life story of a visionary Prof. Dr. Ashraf Mansour, who was supported by a devoted German/Egyptian team of high intellectual pioneering spirit. All of them believed in the power of knowledge and science and their ability to create a better future and a more peaceful world. Therefore, all these pioneers took the risk with a complete faith and devotion of the principles and vision of the GUC Prime Founder and worked to make his vision come true. All of them went together in the pathway of exploring horizons of peaceful cooperation on the level of higher education and of scientific research that were never attained before. The love to their nations, the devotion to science and the belief in its ability to empower the human capacities with the needed knowledge and skills was their driving force. Their aim was to attain this vision in an environment that values religious, political and ideological neutrality and embraces differences. They believed also in Ashraf Mansour’s statement, which is “Diversity is Enrichment.”
In 1994 Prof. Mansour’s vision was “to build a leading center of excellence in teaching and research that will effectively contribute to the general welfare nationally and internationally and endeavor the scientific, technical, economic and cultural cooperation between Egypt and Germany.” In October 2003 German and Egyptian delegates headed by the Egyptian President and the German Chancellor inaugurated the German University in Cairo in an unprecedented event in both educational and research fields. In 2015, GUC celebrates its 13th anniversary having 10000 Alumni and 10000 enrolled students. They are all ambassadors of GUC, young scientists, business men and women who are international citizens of the world who have combined theory with practice alongside with scientific, professional applications according to the highest international standards and under the supervision of the best selected faculty members from Germany, Egypt and all around the globe.
From the time of the creation of the vision till today, the pathway was not an easy one. It was a path filled with hard work, belief,and dedication to reach the greater good of both countries and to transform the land that was once filled with sand to a great international university with 2 campuses in Cairo and in Berlin, its Industrial Park, its Ulm hostel, and its international offices to serve as a gate -as well as - a high-way to and between the two nations: Egypt and Germany.
The GUC is the fruitful outcome of a dream that Prof. Ashraf Mansour had back in 1994. He first travelled toGermany as a DAAD scholar (1988-1992). In 1992, he got his Ph.D. (Dr. rer. nat.) from the University of Ulm in the Department of Applied Physics under the supervision of Prof. Wolfgang Pechhold. Later, in 1997, Prof. Mansour got his habilitation (D.Sc.) as well as his professorship degrees. In 1999, he obtained an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship and at the same year, he founded the DAAD Alumni Association in Egypt and was elected for more than 10 years as President of the DAAD Alumni, Egypt, and lately as a life-long “Honoring President”. Furthermore, he was honored by the University of Ulm as “Honoring Senator” in February 2005 and was awarded by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany “The State Merit of Order, 1st Class” in October 2008.
During his time of stay in Germany, Prof. Mansour carried his files, documents and presentation and before all these his vision and spirit of the establishment of the “German University in Cairo” which was to build a leading center of excellence in teaching and research that will effectively contribute to the general welfare nationally and internationally and endeavor the scientific, technical, economic and cultural cooperation between Egypt and Germany and headed to Prof. Hans Wolff, President of the University of Ulm, at that time. Prof. Hans Wolff by then was - and until today still is - inspired by the idea, concept, implementation plan and also the vision and the spirit of Prof. Mansour and remains one of the greatest supporters of the GUC. This man believed in the importance of the project and took not only the time, but also the risk for a very long-term project. Nobody knew back then, how this project will end and whether it will fail or succeed. Thus, Prof. Wolff was not only a real entrepreneur but also a patriot of his motherland “Germany” and a devoted President of the “University of Ulm”, who is a real extra-ordinary ambassador that does not only believe in the importance of soft public diplomacy in connecting countries and people, but is also an advocate of being actively involved or even fiercely struggling to achieving this goal. Last but not least, he believed in the values of humanity and the importance of universities, science and culture in creating bridges between intellectuals regardless of their nationalities and ethnics.
In the implementation journey, Prof. Wolff took positions clearly with no hesitations or second thoughts for the welfare of the GUC in order to realize its noble vision. He accompanied Prof. Mansour - as well as Prof. Fritsch, President of the University of Stuttgart - along hundreds of thousands of miles within Germany and travelled to Egypt to knock doors and to search for opportunities in order to support the GUC. In addition, he shared in planning, implementation and management of all related GUC affairs. Prof. Wolff also believed that the GUC project is too large to be supported by only one German university and needs the support from all German personalities and institutions, which are really loyal and devoted to their mother country Germany. Prof. Hans Wolff’s famous statement “We will not be good German Citizens, if we will not and restrictively support the GUC”, sums up all his beliefs.
In accordance with this spirit, Prof. Wolff and Prof. Mansour succeeded to win other visionaries on board. Prof. Wolff invited for participation, a young and recently elected President of the University of Stuttgart, Prof. Dieter Fritsch to join the project of the establishment of the GUC. It is very fascinating to see how Prof. Dr. Dieter Fritsch carried both flags of Germany and Science to support GUC in every aspect since that time to date. Prof. Dieter Fritsch, at that time, also believed in the importance of the GUC project and all international activities in strengthening the research and innovation of the German academic and industrial landscape. He tried relentlessly to open industrial and technical cooperation pathways with different institutions and also succeeded to create links with the company Trumpf and its owner and CEO Prof. Leibinger. This activity opened a new horizon for the German Egyptian economic and industrial cooperation that has served the German National economy and at the same time contributed to the local development of the Egyptian industry. This is in addition to the tremendous upgrading and exposure for the GUC students and graduates for the real industrial life. Furthermore, Prof. Fritsch contributed together with Professors Mansour and Wolff to all academic, administrative and managerial aspects with full devotion and enthusiasm from 2000 till now.
In the meantime, Prof. Wolff communicated with the Ministry of Science and Art of Baden-Württemberg (MWK), seeking for support and endorsement. On the other hand, Prof. Ashraf Mansour worked on securing the financial and construction resources by his eldest brother Eng. Abdelfattah Mansour and also other Egyptian academic partners from many Egyptian universities and others. He relied on his family members, co-workers and colleagues, in Germany and Egypt, in the whole planning and execution of the project.
In the year 1999, University of Ulm officially declared its participation in the foundation. In December 2000, Prof. Ashraf Mansour and Prof. Hans Wolff called for a historical meeting in Marriott Hotel in Cairo, which was regarded as the official birth of the GUC and after almost 6 hard years of intensive work for planning of the project. They invited the Minister of Sciences and Arts of Baden-Württemberg (MWK), Dr. Klaus Von Trohta, the General Secretary of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Dr. Christian Bode, the German Ambassador in Cairo Freiherr Paul Von Maltzahn, who delegated Mrs. Sybille Bendig, the Head of the Culture Department to attend on his behalf. The meeting was also attended by many academic, business and industrial personalities from the Egyptian side. After a long meeting, which extended for many hours, the general frame of the project was discussed and all important and fundamental aspects were deeply elaborated. Both institutions, the Ministry of Sciences and Arts of Baden-Württemberg (MWK) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) gave their primary positive signals for supporting the GUC project, which are extended till today. Both communicated with the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Cairo, Freiherr Paul Von Maltzahn these positive signals and since then the Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (AA), as well as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research are supporting the GUC.
According to the concept presented at the Marriot meeting in December 2000, the founding of the German University in Cairo was planned to take place in the form of an Egyptian private university in accordance with the law prevailing in Egypt, but in close personnel and institutional cooperation with German partner institutions. It was planned that it will get -for clarification of the German character- the name "German University in Cairo (GUC)". In addition, the university will be predominantly funded by private Egyptian investors and tuition fees. The university should be structured in several faculties as well as central facilities -mainly in the science and engineering field. The English language will be used in operation of the university as well as in teaching, research and administration, but compulsory German language courses will be offered to all students and will be organized by a German Centre. For the academic self-government (self-management), a University Senate (University Council) and a Supervisory Body, a Board of Trustees (BoT) will be formed, whose members consist of German and Egyptian personalities. Professor Mansour then submitted the draft construction and development plan which had been explained by Eng. Abdel-Fattah Mansour.
Finally, Prof. Mansour pointed out that the implementation of such a complex and multi-faceted project is to be accomplished only through the direct and close cooperation with German universities and research institutions as well as with the significant and permanent political support of the competent German authorities on state and federal level. He mentioned in this context, especially the Ministry of Sciences and Arts, State of Baden Wuerttemberg (MWK) and he asked for the political backing of Minister von Trotha for the cooperation with universities in Baden-Württemberg. Professor Wolff stated that he and the University of Ulm were ready to cooperate with Professor Mansour to implement the project.
In the subsequent discussion, the German side expressed skepticism about the chances of implementation (realization) of the project in view of the magnitude of the proposed measures, especially since the financing of the concept is substantial. Here were authoritative commitments missing. However, Professor Mansour has shown, as a reply to these concerns, some fascinating aspects on how it would be worth it to pursue the matter further. Minister von Trotha agreed to examine the project in the MWK based on the concept presented and to communicate in a short time if cooperation with Baden-Württemberg universities could be recommended. Decisive for the succeeding opinion formation in the MWK, a subsequent meeting was held with the German Ambassador in Cairo, Paul Freiherr von Maltzahn, who passionately supported the concept of Professor Mansour and restated the collaboration of the Embassy.
After returning to Germany, the project was discussed again at MWK with Professor Wolff and including the DAAD, where positive aspects outweighed all concerns. In this context, Mr. Kammerlohr, the Undersecretary of State, remarked that the University of Ulm would be as a sole cooperation partner certainly overburdened if it stands alone to provide the Egyptian side with the needed personnel as well as help on other possible academic facets. He suggested following the recommendation of Prof. Wolff by involving a larger and more technically oriented university. Finally, through their mediation, it has been succeeded to involve the University of Stuttgart and its rector Professor Dieter Fritsch. Thereupon Minister von Trotha informed Professor Mansour in a letter dated on 28th of December, 2000 that the MWK and the Universities of Stuttgart and Ulm are ready for personnel and substantive cooperation. Financial commitments have not been made explicitly at that time. Later in January 2001, the Prime Founder of the GUC, Prof. Mansour got the official approval of the University of Stuttgart to be on-board with the overwhelming support of its president Prof. Dr. Dieter Fritsch.
Laying The Foundation Stone and The Establishment Acts
Already from the beginning of 2001, Professor Mansour and Eng. Abdel-Fattah Mansour had prepared the detailed planning of the GUC. Crucially involved were the universities of Stuttgart and Ulm with the rectors Professor Fritsch and Professor Wolff, the German Embassy in Cairo, Ambassador Maltzahn, the DAAD Office in Cairo, Alexander Haridi and Dr. Christian Bode the General secretary of the DAAD in Bonn. Initially and with the significant mediation of the German Embassy a land for the GUC Campus in New Cairo could be purchased. This means that the building design could then be continued in practice. In addition, first direct political contacts with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Foreign Office (AA) were established.
The laying of foundation stone took place on Campus at a ceremony on October 21st, 2001. High-ranking representatives of the Egyptian higher education management, the Federal Government, the German Embassy, the DAAD and the Universities of Stuttgart and Ulm were present. The MWK was represented by the Deputy Minister of Science, Wolfgang Fröhlich. From the Federal Government Albert Spiegel Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, German Embassy Ambassador Maltzahn, DAAD General Secretary Christian Bode, Presidents of the Universities of Stuttgart and Ulm Wolff and Fritsch and the President from IHK Germany Werner Gegenbauer as well as many German representatives of the cultural and industrial institutions like GIZ, Goethe institute and others were present. From the Egyptian counterpart, the Minister of Higher Education, Minister of Housing, Minister of Industry and Investments and others also attended the ceremony of laying the foundation.
In the following weeks, the work took place intensively on the completion of the foundation application documents for obtaining the Egyptian State approval for establishment of the "German University in Cairo". These were handed-over officially in March 2001 by Professor Mansour accompanied by the German Ambassador Paul von Maltzahn, the Universoty Presidents Professor Dieter Fritsch and Professor Hans Wolff and the Director of the DAAD Cairo Office Alexander Haridi to the Minister Professor Moufid Mahmoud Shehab at the Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research.
The State approval for establishing the GUC has taken place through the Presidential Decree No. 27/2002 of 11 February 2002. Already in the same year, the university founders determined the composition of the Board of Trustees. As Chairman of the Board Professor Ashraf Mansour has been chosen as he is the Prime Founder. Professor Hans Wolff, Rector of the University of Ulm, has been chosen and as his deputy. In May 2002, the GUC president and the German founding rector were appointed by a "Body Board". Both started their official duties in September 2002. In October 2002, the first meeting of the Board of Trustees finally took place.
Inauguration and Operation of the GUC
Before and after the construction completion of the first mega-complex and the lecture halls building and after the final carrying out of the curricula according to German curriculum for the intended faculties and courses, the announcement and recruitment of scientific and other staff took place. Subsequently, the GUC was inaugurated on October 5th, 2003 in the presence of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, President Hosni Mubarak and Prime Minister Erwin Teufel and Federal Minister of Higher Education Edelgard Bulmahn as a joint German-Egyptian initiative of both countries.
The participation of the German side in the top decision-making bodies of the GUC, Board of Trustees and University Council, is protected through the above-mentioned Presidential Decree (Articles V and VII). Thus, for example, Prime Founder Professor Ashraf Mansour is authorized to have 21 seats in the Board of Trustees 7 are reserved by decree for the German side. One seat each had been initially allotted to the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees and the German Founding Rector. The principle of division of competences between the German and the Egyptian sides was consistently enforced also in terms of other functional sections. So in addition to the Egyptian faculties’ deans, German founding deans have been appointed. The German founding rector and the German founding deans are also members of the University Council.
The GUC started classes immediately after the inauguration with 5 faculties:
- Information Engineering and Technology (IET)
- Media Engineering and Technology (MET)
- Engineering and Material Sciences (EMS)
- Management and Technology (MGT)
- Pharmacy and Biotechnology (PBT)
In the first academic year 2003/04, 928 students were admitted. In the following two winter semesters each approximately 1,100 students were enrolled.
Further development of the GUC
By July 2007, GUC acquired a property in Ulm, which has since then served as a guesthouse for Egyptian scientists and as a residence for Egyptian exchange students. An industry park was also established in 2007 on the Campus of GUC, where the German companies presented the latest high-tech products/ machines and hence served as a bridge between theory and practice by facilitating practical study and research projects for GUC students. In the industry park, the companies FESTO, DMG, Trumpf and Walter are currently represented.
At the 5th year anniversary of the GUC in 2008, the cooperation of GUC with the partner universities of Stuttgart and Ulm was substantiated by the conclusion of a new and comprehensive cooperation agreement. The MWK and Minister Professor Peter Frankenberg approved the reformulated cooperation through a support amendment dated on the 5th of December 2008 (Appendix 1). Subsequently, the University of Tübingen joined this agreement.
For the aim of a stronger connection of the GUC to Germany / Baden-Württemberg also a "Joint Declaration between the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Wuerttemberg and the GUC" has been concluded on the 8th of December 2010, which was signed by Minister Professor Peter Frankenberg and Professor Ashraf Mansour (Appendix 2) and in addition there is also the Council of Ministers’ decision of the State’s Government of Baden-Württemberg dated on the 14th of December 2010 (Appendix 3).
In February 2011, the GUC opened a representation office at the Science Center in Berlin (GUC Berlin Office), which is headed by a full-time employee.
In 2012 the GUC has acquired another property in Berlin with 8356 sqm of floor space, which is used as a branch campus since early 2013 (GUC Berlin Branch). The aim is to enable GUC students to study abroad for a semester or one full academic year. Furthermore, research seminars and cultural events are being held there.
In 2013, the DAAD initiated an evaluation at the University of Ulm regarding the cooperation with the GUC and the third funding phase for developing research relationships. The independent evaluators came to a very positive result in the final report dated on the 24th of March 2014 and recommended to continue the scientific collaboration between the GUC and the German partner universities.
Current Status of GUC
The GUC is now with currently about 10,000 students a significant educational institution and is ranked according to the results of national examinations for university ranking among the best universities in Egypt. Many of its 71 degree programs are accredited by the German Accreditation Agencies. It is also the first fully integrated German university abroad, offering the three Bologna cycles Bachelor, Master and PhD in an integrated form.
The pathway of the establishment of the GUC was difficult and due to the socio-political developments in Egypt it was accompanied by a series of painful times. Nevertheless, the GUC could defend and preserve its autonomy with regard to the establishment of democratic structures, freedom of science and research and equal opportunities, regardless of Gender, Race, Social Backgrounds and Ideological directions. The GUC also serves as a mediator and a promoter of the democratic development in Egypt.
Germany therefore continues to support the GUC through the Federal Government, the State of Baden-Württemberg and the German partner universities Ulm, Stuttgart and Tübingen in the teaching and research activities. Here, we need to primarily mention the DAAD program "Courses Offered by German Universities Abroad" (BMBF funds), where the promotion of GUC occupies an important place. In addition, funds of the Foreign Office in particular for the delegation of German lecturers and long-term instructors and for scholarships are awarded through the DAAD.