BUE halts classes as students protest to sack university president

Reem Gehad , Monday 4 Mar 2013

Students begin a sit-in seeking to sack the administration and president at the British University in Egypt; Admin suspends all 'educational activity'

BUE students protesting in front of administration building on Saturday 2 March
BUE students protesting in front of administration building on Saturday 2 March (photo by: Omar El-Alfy)

Classes have been suspended for a week at British University in Egypt (BUE) after students staged protests calling on the university’s president and its general secretary to leave their posts.

While BUE students received emails informing them of the decision, a copy of a document signed by university president Ahmed Hamza circulated on Twitter late Sunday.

"After consulting with members of the university council about the violent incidents caused by several students and the damages they have led to, the university’s president has decided to halt all educational activity for a week," the statement reads.

Students started a sit-in at the university’s administration building Saturday and surrounded the president’s office, preventing him from entering. They protested the "commercialisation of education" of their privately-owned university.

"We believe that the university’s main aim is profit," Omar El-Alfy, BUE’s student union president, said flatly.

"The university has been manipulating students’ exam results to disqualify more students from the scholarship programme, thus forcing more to pay the fees," he claims.

"We also believe that the facilities offered by the university, whether it be class space or bus service, to students on campus are not proportionate to the amount of fees they pay," El-Alfy added.

Annual BUE tuition and fees range from LE38,000 -  45,000,depending on the department of study, not including books. Bus fees, educational support and administrative service fees are optional but often necessary expenses.

Although the university’s president agreed to cancel a new 500 sterling pound fee for certain engineering departments and promised that midterm exam papers will be re-marked, students were not content and demanded the administrators leave their posts.

"We were often promised that such issues would be resolved, but this was never fulfilled," El-Alfy charges.

According to El-Alfy, the university’s general secretary left his position Sunday.

"Sami El-Masry gave the student union a signed handwritten document of his resignation," El-Alfy said.

The issue is yet to be resolved on campus, however.

In his statement, Hamza said that the university "has started an investigation into students [accused of causing violent action] and will take appropriate disciplinary action with those proven to be guilty."

"BUE has also notified Egyptian police and the general prosecution of the events and damages so they can take appropriate legal action," it added. "This stems from the university’s keenness on continuing studies in an atmosphere of stability."

BUE was founded in 2005 as a private university in partnership with Loughborough University in the United Kingdom.

Similar protests took place at the American University in Cairo (AUC) and the German University in Cairo (GUC) in September.

AUC students closed down the campus for over a week, forcing the administration to suspend all activity. After negotiations, the administration agreed to reduce future tuition increases from 7 percent to about 2 percent until 2016.

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