University students demand removal of senior staff with NDP links

Hundreds of students and faculty at Egypt’s two largest public universities held demonstrations on Tuesday calling for immediate university reform, and announcing a boycott of the new school year.

Student groups and university professors from Ain Shams University and Cairo University have been demanding that the senior administrations be purged of senior staff with links to Hosni Mubarak’s now-disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP).

“We decided to not participate in the beginning of the 2011-2012 academic year,” said Khaled Samir, a spokesperson for the coalition, and a member of the movement for the independence of Ain Shams University.

Security staff at Aim Shams University attempted to keep its doors closed on Tuesday, claiming that classes had not started. Students however, forced their way in.

Students at Ain Shams chanted “Down with Maged el-Deeb,” referring to the university's dean.

In March, the Coalition of University Professors announced a list of demands, which include sacking the deans and department heads of each university, as well reassessing the wage structures and funding for research.

The Ministry for Higher Education announced in August that it would allow faculty members to choose university heads after they voted in favor of the option. Minister Moatez Khorshed said that current heads would be sacked, however the order has not yet been fully implemented, as the case of Deeb demonstrates.

“I did not receive that decision,” Deeb said when he was later asked about it.

Earlier this week, the coalition held a conference discussing their demands. They released a statement that the ministry had manipulated the results of the faculty votes for university heads, and that it would not lead to free and fair elections.

On 22 August, Cairo University head Hussain Kamel stepped down after pressure from students and university staff.

Members of the Coalition of University Professors are set to meet with the Supreme Council of the Armed forces to discuss their demands, Samir said.

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