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New UPEI campus in Egypt: Green leader raises questions about human rights

P.E.I. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker.

(Guardian File Photo)
FILE PHOTO: P.E.I. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker. ©THE GUARDIAN

A move by UPEI to offer degrees in Egypt has left Green leader Peter Bevan-Baker questioning that country’s human rights record.

Bevan-Baker raised the issue during Thursday’s question period referring to UPEI’s plan to offer several degrees through a new Egyptian campus starting in September.

He said Egypt’s state minister has a history of human rights violations, including suppression of free speech, violence, oppression of women’s rights and torture against dissidents.

“Is government concerned that our province’s public money and our province’s identity and brand will contribute to legitimizing such an undemocratic regime?”

P.E.I. government gives annual grants to UPEI, but it did not provide funding for the Egypt campus.

That new campus was part of a larger announcement UPEI made Thursday about degree programs in other parts of the world.

It included an agreement with the Canadian University of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for a joint degree in environmental studies and climate change and adaption.

Another agreement involved a joint degree with the Univesidad Rey Juan Carlos in Spain.

UPEI said the new campus, near Cairo, is funded by the University of Canada, Egypt.

Starting in September, UPEI will offer degrees in sustainable design engineering, math and computational sciences, environmental studies and climate change and adaptation and business administration in Egypt.

Bevan-Baker questioned whether employees, faculty and students from the Island who go to the Egyptian campus will have their rights protected, as they are in P.E.I.

He referred to the high number of International students who attend UPEI.

“Those students, who come here on Prince Edward Island, their human rights, their workplace safety and their freedom from sexual harassment are protected with our laws,” Bevan-Baker said.

Advanced Learning Minister Sonny Gallant responded by saying Bevan-Baker was talking about a different country.

“We have our laws here, and when we bring international students here a lot of them want to stay here because of what a wonderful place this province is and how they’re treated,” Gallant said.

Robert Gilmour, vice-president academic and research, said UPEI will have exclusive jurisdiction over program delivery to ensure the university’s admission and degree requirements are met at the Egypt campus.

“Everyone is excited about the prospect of granting UPEI degrees outside North America,” he said.

Ryan.Ross@TheGuardian.pe.ca

Twitter – RyanRRoss

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