Algonquin took at $4.3 million loss when it bailed out of a five-year deal just three years into its mandate. It failed to enroll the 2,000 students required to make it profitable. And its expectations did not match with those of the Saudis.
Therefore, it was not surprising that eyebrows were raised when Ryerson University last month announced that it was launching a satellite campus in Cairo, Egypt.
“This exciting partnership with Universities of Canada in Egypt, and new educational model, will make Ryerson’s strong academic programming available to more students as we continue to enhance the international scope of our aspirations and influence,” announced Mohamed Lachemi, Ryerson’s president and vice-chancellor.
Universities of Canada in Egypt is a private-sector organization that currently hosts students attending the University of Prince Edward Island. UPEI’s interest in the campus is perhaps understandable, given the aging population of that province and the dearth of potential domestic students.
It's a little unclear why Ryerson is taking this route. Toronto is a magnet for both domestic and international students. Ryerson’s enrolment is a healthy 36,000 students.
At the Cairo campus, Ryerson plans to offer media production, sports media, fashion and engineering programs. The first cohort will begin classes in September and the university plans to expand its offerings in the future.
Ryerson says it will oversee academic programming, course quality and admission decisions. The campus will deliver the Canadian curriculum and at least half the instructors are expected to be Canadian citizens.
In 2018, Alex Usher of Higher Education Strategy Associates commented on the challenges facing these Canadian overseas campuses: “We never bring our A game and generally assume foreign operations can be run by remote control from somewhere in Ontario.”
Canadian educational institutions must deal with other cultures and varying contractual expectations in different legal systems. It all adds up to a recipe for uncertainty.
Ryerson spokeswoman Jessica Leach did not respond to requests for additional information about the project.