Saturday,18 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1165, (19 - 25 September 2013)
Saturday,18 August, 2018
Issue 1165, (19 - 25 September 2013)

Ahram Weekly

Classes in tents

Nile University students are protesting against a delay in enforcing a court order allowing them to use the campus buildings, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

Minister of Higher Education Hossam Eissa is scheduled to meet within the next few days with board members of the Nile University together with Zuweil City officials in order to reach a compromise regarding the ongoing legal dispute over the campus. Meanwhile, dozens of Nile University students protested in front of the Supreme Judiciary Court on 10 September against what they described as the “illegal and immoral occupation” of campus buildings by the Laureate Nobel Prize winner Ahmed Zuweil. The protest is an escalation in their stance to pressure the concerned authorities to allow them use of the university buildings.

Two days after students protested they issued a statement vowing to escalate. They also pointed out in a statement that Zuweil and officials of his city are “disregarding the future of hundreds of students, manipulating their dreams, as well as deceiving public opinion.” Ali Mohamed, a student, said, “we are not going to tolerate any laxity or negligence anymore on behalf of concerned officials to our demands,” said Mohamed. The new academic year will kick off on 21 September. “When and where are we supposed to take our lectures? We are illegally banned from entering the university’s premises,” he added.

“We intend to escalate our protest. Escalation will be announced at the proper time. This time we will not give up our rights under any conditions,” said Mohamed.

In 2011 the government of former prime minister Ahmed Shafik granted the land to Zuweil’s scientific city. However, a court ruled that both entities should share the disputed land. “Yet the verdict is not being enforced,” added Mohamed.

Emad Mubarak, lawyer and director of the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), said Eissa should solve the dispute before next Sunday which is the scheduled date for the beginning of the new academic year. “Eissa’s promise to resolve the dispute has now become a duty,” said Mubarak. “Many experts believe he is incapable of preserving the rights of Nile University and its students,” Mubarak added.

Immediately after the 25 January Revolution a dispute over the land began between Nile University and the Zuweil City for Science and Technology (ZCST). Accordingly, university students were kicked out of its premises. As a temporary solution students erected several tents in front of the university to hold their classes in. In August 2012 Nile University students held a sit-in in the disputed campus for several weeks until it was dispersed by force.

Students also conducted several protests in front of the Cabinet downtown, the Press Syndicate and Bibliotheca Alexandrina in the coastal city of Alexandria.

ZCST issued a statement rejecting the allegations reported about the city and its legal status. According to the statement, ZCST managed to attract international scientists to join its mission to help Egypt become a major player on the regional, national and international levels in science and technology.

Zuweil City enjoys a decree giving it the right to the land and the buildings which were originally owned by the government. Zuweil City was never a part in the Nile University issue. It was handed the buildings from the cabinet after Nile University waived its right to use the buildings which were empty at the time. The city stresses that its legal stance is totally correct. ZCST adds it has been attracting since its creation the right scientists “who are relentless and fighters to continue to work in tough circumstances and have the patience to see their work come through.

“The city is facing several challenges to pave the way for scientific and technological advancement. The city’s university — Zuweil’s University — this year accepted 300 students who were carefully selected from among more than 6,000 applicants. The 300 students excel academically and were top in the class in high school.”

Ingi Ahmed, a member of the Student Union of Nile University stated, “we previously warned the city’s students not to enroll in a university caught up in disputes.”

The ZCST board of trustees issued a decision exempting all the university’s 300 students from their university fees for their entire duration of study. Hanan Ezzat, ZCST’s communication director, said the exemption was made due to the deteriorating economic conditions following the latest instability in the country. “The board of trustees wanted to reward the university’s 300 students, who are all top students with a high school score of at least 98 per cent. The cost of educating one student at Zuweil University is LE80,000,” Ezzat added.

Nile University is a non-profit institution of higher education. It was established in July 2006 by the Egyptian Foundation for Technological Education Development, dedicated, it says, to improving technology-related education.

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