Students, faculty and staff at the American University in Cairo (AUC) were blocked from entering campus early Sunday for the third time in a week.
On Saturday, following an order by the university administration, the university's gates at all the entrances — which had been chained twice over the past week — were removed wholly.
A number of students protesting a seven per cent rise in tuition fees this academic semester had previously barred the gates on 13 September and 20 September. Late Saturday, the student movement defiantly reseated the gates and then chained them shut.
On Wednesday, a day before the gates were chained for a second time, the AUC Student Movement Facebook page circulated a message announcing it would shut the gates early Thursday, claiming to have gathered 2000 signatures in support of its decision.
On Thursday, the university administration cancelled all classes in response, stating that the action "had created a dangerous situation in the streets around the campus."
AUC President Lisa Anderson on Saturday stated that "after several intensive rounds of negotiations with representatives of the protesting students over the past several days, unfortunately we have reached a standoff."
In an email circulated to the AUC community, Anderson warned, "The protesting students may continue to try to prevent access through some or all of the gates; this action is a violation of both university policy and of Egyptian law. Moreover, the educational mission of the university cannot be further compromised."
The administration announced Wednesday that five students had been suspended pending an investigation for "obstructing access to the campus and infringing upon the rights of other students to receive the education to which they are entitled."
According to a senior business administration student, this morning approximately 200 students, faculty and staff are standing outside one of the main gates of the university. "The situation at the time being remains relatively calm with no major scuffles taking place between students and security," the student told Ahram Online.
By 10.30am, an eyewitness reported that bulldozers had been sent to break through a barbed wire fence and Central Security Forces trucks could be seen driving past the university gates.