Council of Ministers approves new law as faculty members begin sit-in

Ahram Online, Monday 4 Jul 2011

The Council of Ministers has responded to the protests of Egypt's lecturers and professors with a new law that will lead to the dismissal of all current heads of universities

The Council of Ministers approved today a new law regulating the operation of institutes of higher learning.

The new law will amend Law 49 of 1972, and will include the dismissal of all current university heads by 1 August. The Ministry of Higher Education submitted the new amendments to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The law will stipulate new regulations for appointing university heads.

The amendments came after protests by faculty members across Egypt, demanding that “Mubarak era” university heads be replaced. Today, tens of faculty members in universities across Egypt began an open sit-in demanding that all university heads be removed and replaced with elected leaders.

The universities who participated in the sit-in included Cairo University, Ain Shams University, as well as universities in Zaqaziq, Alexandria, Helwan, Fayoum, Suez Canal, Beni Sueif, Kafr El-Sheikh as well as postgraduates in the Scientific Research Academy in Cairo.

The 9 March Movement for the Independence of Universities also released a statement encouraging all faculty members to join the sit-in, which will continue until the end of week and wrap up with a march to Tahrir Square.

In Ain Shams University, professors demanded that the national higher education budget be increased to 2.5 per cent and that professor’s salaries also be raised to match that of their counterparts in neighbouring countries. They also demanded that the head of the university release the university budget for the last three years, including all bonuses given to the university president and his deputies, publishing the information on the university's website.

Universities in other cities saw similar protests. In the Scientific Research Academy, the Coalition of Postgraduates sent a memorandum to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces where they accused Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Amr Ezzat, and the president of the Scientific Research Academy, Maged El-Sherbiny, of refusing to appoint them in universities and research centres and giving them administrative positions only.

The Academy released yesterday a statement announcing that it will suspend its activities in the coming period because of the sit-in.

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