American University in Cairo students protest rising tuition fees

Ekram Ibrahim, Wednesday 19 Sep 2012

AUC students collect signatures calling for campus closure until demands for fee reduction are met; University administration voices support for free expression as long as it doesn't infringe on rights of others

AUC students
File photo: AUC students protesting last november (Photo: Randa Ali)

Conflict continues to simmer between American University in Cairo (AUC) students and university administrators over rising tuition fees, although classes continue to be held on schedule.  

Students are currently collecting signatures calling for the closure of the campus until two demands are met: cancellation of a recent 7 per cent increase in annual tuition charges and the setting of a "cap" on tuition fees.

"We, the students, faculty and staff members of AUC, fully agree with the complete shutdown of the AUC campus until our two demands are met," the petition, posted on the AUC Student Movement's Facebook page, reads.

"We want to collect some 2,000 signatures in order to close the campus doors," AUC engineering student Youssef Mohamed told Ahram Online.

Last Sunday, students chained the AUC campus gates shut to press for their demands, thus preventing students and staff from entering the university. Five were suspended from the university for their roles in the closure.  

University administrators, for their part, have stressed their support for freedom of speech, emphasising their readiness to consider students' input.  

"Permanent seats were created for student representatives in nearly all the university's management committees, including a budget committee with faculty, staff and student representatives, where financial matters – including the tuition rate – are discussed," read an AUC press statement released Wednesday.

The AUC administration, however, also stated that, while both students and staff enjoyed the right to express themselves, this was only as long as "such expression does not infringe upon the rights or privileges of anyone not in sympathy with it; nor will anyone be permitted to harm others, damage or deface property, block access to university buildings or disrupt classes."

On Thursday, a handful of students demonstrated outside the university administration building to reiterate their demands.

Last year saw similar student protests at AUC against rising tuition fees. At the time, students also demanded better wages for campus workers.

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