UW-Madison suspends Egypt programs, students leave Alexandria

Jan. 31, 2011

by John Lucas

Note: As of 5:30 p.m. CST today, Monday, Jan. 31, the students in Alexandria had left the airport and were en route to Prague on their way back to the United States.

In light of escalating political unrest, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has indefinitely suspended its study abroad programs in Egypt.

Six UW-Madison students had arrived in Alexandria earlier in January in preparation for the start of classes at the Arabic Language Program in Alexandria (co-sponsored by the Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University) and the Arabic language program at Alexandria University (through Middlebury School of the Middle East.)

All six are currently at the Alexandria’s El Nozha airport awaiting transportation back to the U.S.  The airport is secure and guarded by the army.  Flights are expected to begin today, Monday, Jan. 31.

Two other students, who had planned to leave this Wednesday for Cairo programs at Ain Shams University and Cairo University (co-sponsored by the Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University) will not depart as planned.

This weekend, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for Egypt that reads, in part:

"The U.S. Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to Egypt due to ongoing political and social unrest. On Sunday, Jan. 30, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of dependents and non-emergency employees. Violent demonstrations have occurred in several areas of Cairo, Alexandria and other parts of the country, disrupting road travel between city centers and airports.”  

The full report is available here.

“Our top priority is always the safety of our students,” says Julie Lindsey, interim director of International Academic Programs (IAP). “After closely monitoring the developing situation in Egypt, we believe this is the most prudent course.”

IAP will work with students to defer their study abroad to a future semester or place them in another program for the current semester.  UW-Madison will work closely with students who are interested in attending UW-Madison during spring semester to allow late course additions with professor consents.

UW-Madison recognizes that making arrangements with regard to credit, personal finances and departure will be stressful for returning students. The IAP staff will be available to assist them in making the process as smooth as possible under the circumstances.