Land dispute continues between Egypt's Nile University, Zewail City

Ahram Online , Thursday 9 May 2013

Zewail City's administration says it has spent millions of Egyptian pounds to equip buildings now ordered to be returned to Nile University

Nile University
Nile University (Photo: Ahram)

A tug-of-war between Cairo's Zewail City for Science and Technology (ZCST) and the non-for-profit Nile University (NU) persists despite a court ruling last month.

The ZCST's board held a conference on Thursday in support of the project after Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court ruled on 24 April that NU regain possession of its own lands and buildings that were allocated to ZCST in 2011.

The court also dismissed two appeals filed by the ZCST and the Egyptian government.

The ZCST is named after and managed by prominent Egyptian chemist and Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail.

"13 years of conflicting decisions" and intentional hindering of the project by Egypt's successive governments is to blame for the current gridlock," said Mohamed Ghoneim, leading urologist and founder of Mansoura University's Kidney Centre.

He asserted that Zewail has been subjected to a slander campaign, accusing him of derailing NU's expansive plans.

"The ongoing dispute is not between both universities, but rather NU and the government on one side and Zewail and the government on the other," Ghoneim added.

Negotiations are currently underway between the university's administration and the government to scrabble around for an alternative location.

The university's board has raised concerns about the reinstallation of the university's sophisticated equipment and providing an alternative place for almost a 200-member staff and 4,000 students before the beginning of the new academic year.

The Nile University's administration, for its part, slammed claims by the ZCST that the court verdict would affect the course of the 'national project.'

In a Thursday statement, the NU asserted it is a non-for-profit organisation that will be officially registered as a 'civil' university rather than a private institution under the administrative court's decision.

"The injustice and aggression the university has been subjected to over the past two years has effectively stalled the university's plans to expand in services and number of students," read the statement.

Following the January 2011 revolution, the government gave all of NU's land to the ZCST. As a result of the move, NU students were banned from the campus premises.

Students then started to attend classes in a makeshift campus in Egypt's Smart Village, an industrial park in Sixth October City, west of Cairo. Other less fortunate students, meanwhile, were forced to travel to universities farther afield to use their laboratory facilities.

In August 2012, students started a 200-day sit-in to protest allocating the NU campus to the ZCST.

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