Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-

Ahram Weekly

Splitting assets

A festering year and a half dispute between Nile University and Zewail City for Science and Technology has been solved by the simple expedient of dividing the disputed campus into two, Reem Leila reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

After a protracted 18-month dispute the Administrative Court ruled on Sunday that campus grounds and buildings claimed by both the Nile University and Zewail City for Science and Technology should be divided between the two.
Under the ruling Nile University will receive one of two disputed buildings, LE150 million in compensation and control of 70 acres of the 130 acre campus. The second building goes to the Zewail City for Science and Technology along with the remaining 60 acres of land.
The ruling cancels decisions taken by prime ministers Ahmed Shafik and Essam Sharaf to remove the entire campus from the Nile University’s control and endow it to the Zewail City for Science and Technology.
Nile University students have been protesting against the earlier decrees since the beginning of the academic year. Several sit-ins were held in front of the Cabinet’s Cairo headquarters and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and for the past 80 days lectures, classes and even exams have taken place in tents erected outside the disputed property.
The verdict was immediately hailed as a victory by Nile University’s students and staff, though some sounded a note of caution, pointing out that the ruling has yet to be implemented and the gates of the campus remain locked.
“We are proud of what we have achieved. It was a long road but we have finally won our case. We had faith in God and trusted that justice would be done,” says Nile University Students Union head Ahmed Nassar. “Our next step will be to secure court order to allow us to enter university premises.”
The ruling came in response to a case filed immediately following the 25 January Revolution by former MP Hamdi Al-Fakharani and a number of Nile University students. The petition, filed against the minister of higher education, the prime minister and the head of Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), demanded that earlier prime ministerial decrees be annulled and the land and buildings returned to Nile University.
The case, says Al-Fakharani, was based on the fact that the Nile University had paid LE62 million to the government for a 99-year lease of the campus. Following the verdict Al-Fakharani announced that he did not expect any appeal. Lawyers acting for Zewail City have said they will abide by the ruling.
The Administrative Court judgement turned down a request to change the Nile University’s status from a private institution to a non-profit NGO. The university’s trustees had submitted a petition to the minister of higher education for a change in status before the January Revolution. The minister agreed in principle though the actual change required a presidential decree which was not issued.
“We do not want the university to remain a private institution. We don’t want a bunch of wealthy people to own it,” says Nassar.
“Changing the university into a non-profit entity would transfer supervision of its resources to the government. It would also mean students cease paying fees. Allowing businessmen to control the university means that in the end it is being run for profit.”  
Nassar says that students will continue to press for the change.
“It is never too late,” insists Al-Fakharani. “The decision can still be taken by President Mohamed Morsi.”
In September security forces forcibly dispersed a student sit-in and detained five students. The move was condemned by liberal forces who described it as an attack on academic freedom.

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