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Northwestern Cancels Study Abroad in Egypt

Political unrest led the university to cancel one program in Cairo and another in Egypt.

Supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood take part in a rally to show their support for Morsi in Cairo on June 29, 2013. Protests killed three, including an American. Credit: AFP/Getty.
Supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood take part in a rally to show their support for Morsi in Cairo on June 29, 2013. Protests killed three, including an American. Credit: AFP/Getty.

Northwestern University canceled two study abroad programs in Egypt this semester because of political unrest in that country.

One was in Cairo and the other in Alexandria, according to Julie Anne Friend, associate director for international safety and security at Northwestern University.

The study abroad department monitors the news from abroad daily, as well as travel warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State and several private security information services, according to Friend. If there appears to be an immediate threat, the university will bring students home immediately. If there’s more time to make a decision, Friend and a risk assessment committee will determine whether or not to suspend a program. 

The university canceled its program in Egypt after the military coup in June, in part because of the volatility of civil society and also because it appeared that unrest would impact students’ ability to even take classes at all, Friend says. The State Department issued a travel warning on Aug. 15, citing “continuing political and social unrest.” 

“We look to the totality of the circumstances: where the students are housed, where the university is located,” she explains.

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