Saturday,24 February, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013
Saturday,24 February, 2018
Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Campus unclear

A presidential decree leaves Nile University students uncertain about their academic future, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

Late last week, President Mohamed Morsi issued a presidential decree establishing the Zewail City for Science and Technology (ZCST). The headquarters of ZCST, chaired by Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail, will be located in Sheikh Zayed city. The 17-article decree did not provide details about the exact location of the ZCST or whether it will use the same disputed buildings and premises of Nile University.
According to the decree, ZCST will have an independent budget based on donations mainly from businessmen, citizens and the state. It will be monitored by the Central Auditing Agency. The city will comprise three sections: a university for science and technology, several research centres and a centre to apply the results of research to make it applicable to reality. The centre will be called “Pyramid of Technology”.
The city will have a consultative council composed of no less than 18 members and not more than 30 national and international figures. Head of the council and at least half of its members must be Egyptians.
The decree, described as Egypt’s national scientific renaissance project, angered Nile University students and professors. Morsi’s decision came after a legal struggle which lasted for 18 months between Zewail City and Nile University. It also comes after the Administrative Court ruled in November that the disputed campus grounds and buildings claimed by both Nile University and Zewail City for Science and Technology should be divided between the two. The verdict was immediately hailed as a victory by Nile University’s students and staff, however, some were sceptical, pointing out that the ruling has yet to be implemented and the gates of the campus remain locked.
Ahmed Nassar, head of Nile University Student Union, said, “I can’t understand why Morsi issued such a decree. There is a court verdict in our favour. We have filed another case to implement it. Despite all this, they are doing what they want. Until now we have not entered our university. We are still attending our lectures inside the tents we set up in front of the university.”
Student Yara Mohamed believes that the decree is unclear and as vague as that of the Administrative Court’s ruling. The decree did not provide any details about the exact location and address of the project. “Is it going to be at the premises of Nile University or Zewail City? We fear it would be established within the premises of our university. If so, then we’ll be back to square one,” said Mohamed.
Emad Mubarak, lawyer and director of the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), explained that Article 1 of Morsi’s decree stipulated that the project will be built in Sheikh Zayed. Mubarak pointed out this does not necessarily mean that the Zewail City will use the buildings of Nile University. “We need to know the exact location of the project. I guess the president should issue another presidential decree to clarify where exactly the ZCST would be,” Mubarak said.
Mubarak added, “Unfortunately, the court verdict was not yet final. Zewail appealed just one week after it was passed. The appeal was made in the Supreme Administrative Court. The result of the appeal will determine the fate of Nile University.”
Mohamed is not optimistic about their status. “I feel that the Administrative Court’s ruling whether now or in the future will be useless. We have a presidential decree now but nothing can be done about it. I don’t know what will be our fate as students. Where shall we go?”
Immediately after the 25 January Revolution of 2011 a dispute over the land began between the university and ZCST. University students were kicked out of its premises. As a temporary solution, students set up several tents in front of the university where they could sit for their lectures. In August last year 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 in downtown Cairo, the Press Syndicate and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in the coastal city of Alexandria.
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 to improving technology-related education.

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