Gaber Nassar, head of Cairo University (Photo: Al Ahram)
The head of Cairo University has confirmed that the second academic semester will resume on 8 March, more than a month after schools and universities across Egypt were supposed to open.
Speaking with the private TV network Al-Hayah late on Tuesday, Cairo University head Gaber Nassar said that the academic year couldn't be postponed any further.
Students will be back in the classroom by Saturday, he assured.
"We will not close schools and universities for fear of violence and demonstrations," Nassar said.
Egypt's universities witnessed repeated clashes between security forces and protesting students loyal to ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi during the first academic semester.
The on-campus violence left several students dead, with dozens detained, and threatened to derail the academic process, especially at Cairo's Al-Azhar University, the world's oldest centre of Islamic learning, which saw near-daily demonstrations by pro-Muslim Brotherhood students.
The fear of continued protests, along with a swine flu outbreak, caused for authorities to twice delay the second semester's original start date of 1 February.
Nassar said that Cairo University's administration has asked former police officers to train 800 of the school's security personnel, including women, in preparation for any future student protests.
But police will remain outside of the university, he said.
Two weeks ago, Cairo's Court for Urgent Matters ruled that police should once again be permanently deployed on campuses.
The ruling outraged a number of students and professors who argued it might curb freedoms and allow police to return to their former heavy-handed tactics.
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said on Sunday that security forces would only enter universities in the case of violence or disruptions to academic procedures.
Nassar said that he had not been consulted before the decision was made to delay the semester, adding that it was difficult to reduce or compress the school curriculum.
Ashraf Hatem, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Universities, said Wednesday it would be left up to each university to decide how it will make up for the delays, either by eliminating weekends or by extending the hours of daily class sessions.