U.S. college students in Egypt have left or are preparing to leave the country following the demonstrations and political upheaval this week on the streets of Cairo and beyond, campus officials said Friday.
Six University of Maryland-College Park students were scheduled to leave Egypt Friday for Morocco, said Ross Lewin, associate vice president for international affairs. Two of six Georgetown University graduate students were expected to fly out of the country Friday, while four declined the university's offer to help them evacuate, spokeswoman Rachel Pugh said.
Europ Assistance USA, which provides emergency travel assistance to organizations including some college study-abroad programs, was arranging Friday to evacuate students from Egypt, special projects manager Richard Knight said.
Many of the students had been participating in programs organized by third-party groups, including AMIDEAST, a non-profit organization that offers international education opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa.
Most education groups and universities follow advisories of the U.S. State Department, which on Wednesday ordered "non-essential" U.S. government personnel and their families to evacuate "due to the ongoing political and social unrest." Typically, students are moved to programs in other countries, says Sharon Witherell, spokeswoman for the Institute of International Education, a New York-based non-profit that oversees exchange programs.
Of six Michigan State University students, for example, two have moved to Jordan, three have moved to Morocco and one student, who had been studying at the American University in Cairo, has returned to the USA, spokeswoman Cindy Chalou said.
Millions of Egyptians have taken to the streets in the days leading up to and following Wednesday's military ouster of the country's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi. Andrew Pochter, a U.S. student at Kenyon College in Ohio, was fatally stabbed June 28 during a protest.
Zachary Frieders, associate director of the Education Abroad Center at the University of California-Davis, said the university's decision to close a summer program in Egypt was based on several factors, including the potential for disruption of flights out of the country.
"Our primary concern is the safety of students and ensuring safe passage out of the country," he said. On Thursday, the school said in a statement that nine students in its program had boarded a flight to Paris and one had opted to fly to Istanbul and had arrived safely.
Roanne Stanfill, of Silver Spring, Md., said she is "deeply concerned about the potentially volatile situation" in Egypt but grateful that her son, a University of Maryland student, will complete his studies in Morocco.
Jacob Stanfill is participating in the Arabic sudies program of the Language Flagship, which is funded by the Defense Department. "I think they're doing the right thing and they responded quickly so I appreciate that," Roanne Stanfill said.
Many U.S. universities and non-profit groups suspended study-abroad programs in Egypt in early 2011, during the revolution that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. Enrollments by U.S. students in Egypt dropped 43%, to 1,096 in 2012 from 1,923 in 2011, according to the Institute of International Education.
Summer is an especially quiet time for U.S. study-abroad programs in Egypt, said Julie Friend, associate director for international safety and security in Northwestern University's study-abroad program. But some schools, including the University of California-Berkeley and Georgetown have already suspended fall 2013 programs with the American University in Cairo.
Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt., aims to make a decision in early August. If circumstances stay as they are now, fall programs will probably be canceled, said Jeffrey Cason, dean of international programs. But, he added, "in our experience in working with Egypt over the last several years a lot can change very quickly."
J. Larry Brown, president of the Center for International Learning in Oman, said the center has been "inundated" with calls from students and institutions as tensions have heightened in Egypt, Turkey and Syria. The center typically takes in about 225 American students a year but "already we are way above that number for this summer and fall," Brown said.