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Cablegate: Action Completed: Proposed Support to Methodist

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAB #0918 2421554
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301554Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3471
INFO RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0708

UNCLAS ABIDJAN 000918

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE PASS TO USAID/DCHA; ACCRA PASS TO USAID/WARP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASCH IV
SUBJECT: ACTION COMPLETED: PROPOSED SUPPORT TO METHODIST
UNIVERSITY OF COTE D'IVOIRE

REF: STATE 114286

1. (SBU) Post completed the action requested in reftel.
Poloff visited the Methodist University of Cote d'Ivoire
(UMCI) on August 21 and met with university rector and
members of the university's Council for Education and
Training (CEI). UMCI is a small institution and is only in
its second year of operation. There were a total of 90
students enrolled at the university in the academic year that
ended in August 2007. Administrators estimate that there
will be at least 300 students enrolled for the second year of
operation.

2. (SBU) UMCI currently offers two courses of study --
economic sciences and legal studies. For the moment, UMCI
uses classroom space in the primary and secondary school that
the Methodists operate. The primary and secondary school
programs at this location have been operating since 1990 and
1983 respectively. UMCI has 31 professors split equally
between the faculties of economic sciences and law. The
board emphasized that the school recruits staff from other
universities in the area and requires a doctoral degree as
minimum qualification. The cost per year for UMCI is
comparable to other private universities at 650,000 FCFA
(approx. 1337 USD). (Note: The CEI compared UMCI to the
larger and more established and prestigious Catholic
University of Cote D'Ivoire which costs approx 1550 USD per
year. End Note)

3. (SBU) Currently UMCI is financed using the students'
tuition fees and it has no other donors. Since they have not
begun capital improvements, the administration says that they
are able to cover their current operating costs but the costs
of renovations and capital investments far exceed the income
they can recoup from tuition fees. The CEI noted that they
would like to expand their program and roughly estimate that
they will have at least 300 students enrolled during the
school's second year of operation. They would like to
renovate an existing building (formerly used for the
Methodist secondary school) to house a library, computer
center and a teachers' conference room as well as additional
classroom and office space. They will then add floors to a
single story building in order to accommodate the elementary
and secondary school students. Poloff toured the facilities
and saw the buildings in question. The buildings are old and
in disrepair but functional. The university currently uses
5-6 classrooms for their courses but officials note that
space was tight for the 90 students that attended during the
first year of operation. The CEI provided Poloff with a copy
of the renovation plan and budget from the architectural firm
they hired. The plan details a USD 1.6 million project. The
CEI says they have no other sources of revenue at this time.


4. (SBU) Comment: The UMCI demonstrates enormous will in
establishing a new university in a market where public
universities are essentially free. The administrators are
keen to keep the cost of attendance low compared to other
private universities. While the school's mission does not
explicitly promote American values, the school is open to
students regardless of religious or ethnic background,
political affiliation or national origin. The economics
students are learning about free-market economics and the law
students are learning about the fundamentals of a free and
fair judicial system. That being said, Post has some
concerns about the institution's ability to sustain itself
given the university's very short record of operation.
Moreover, the CEI has said that the university has no other
potential donors which leaves a large gap between the USD
200,000 requested in the project proposal and the USD 1.6
million estimate provided by the architectural contractor.
End Comment.
AKUETTEH

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