Egypt's universities could be secured with private companies: Minister

Ahram Online, Wednesday 3 Sep 2014

The proposal to hire private security companies on campus comes after a turbulent academic year that saw violent protests and students killed

Riot police fire rubber bullets and tear gas during a demonstration at the front of Cairo University (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's higher education ministry will study a proposal to hire private security companies at universities nationwide, the minister said on Wednesday according to Reuters' Aswat Masriya news website.

During the Egyptian cabinet's meeting, El-Sayed Abdel-Khalek, minister of higher education, detailed the measures in anticipation of the new academic year, Aswat Masriya said.

The new academic year was set to begin in September but has been delayed two weeks to start 11 October instead.

University students have been at the forefront of anti-government resistance since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July of last year, especially after a security crackdown dropped the number of his supporters on the street.

Violence throughout the last academic year reportedly left 14 students dead and dozens injured, as the demonstrations often ended in clashes with security forces or opposing students. The buildings and dormitories of several campuses were also partially damaged, especially those of Al-Azhar University, where some of the worst fighting took place.

The clashes prompted Egyptian authorities to once again allow police on campus, a step criticised at the time as a return to the police spying and heavy handedness that marked the rule of toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak.

"We are studying some proposals to use private security companies to secure the gates and the fences of universities, and there are set regulations for the dormitories," Abdel-Khalek said.

The minister said he has also received proposals from some students to participate with administrative security in controlling the gates to deter acts of violence.

Another proposal suggested a legislative amendment allowing "the expulsion of any member of the faculty or staff found guilty of inciting violence."

He added that a meeting will be held with university heads with the aim of ensuring the safety of the students in coordination with the interior ministry.

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