Zewail Science City opened student enrollment on Monday to the chagrin of students of Nile University, the institution which challenges Zewail’s ownership of the land on which the science city is built.
The science university, established by Nobel-Prize winning scientist Ahmed Zewail, is still under construction but is located in Sheikh Zayed in 6th of October City on land which Nile University claims it owns.
Nile University students decried the opening of enrollments, particularly in light of an administrative court decision in November which cancelled former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq’s decision to allocate the disputed lands to Zewail Science City.
“This defies the administrative court ruling giving Nile University the right to use the lands,” said Nancy Mustafa, a Nile University student.
However the verdict appeared open to several legal interpretations, one of which suggested that Nile University has only the right to use one of the two buildings on the land, allowing Zewail Science City to use the rest.
Despite the court ruling, Nile University staff and students haven’t been allowed onto the disputed land. The verdict is currently being appealed by Zewail Science City and on behalf of President Mohamed Morsy, Prime Minister Hesham Qandil and Minister of Higher Education Mustafa Sa’ad.
In a meeting with journalists inside the Zewail Science City administrative building in Garden City, Zewail promised to reveal further details of the land dispute only after the successful launch of his new university. The Nobel Prize winner added that this was the first legal dispute he had faced in his career.
President Morsy issued a law late December formally establishing university. Lawyer Emad Mubarak said accordingly it was not unusual for Zewail Science City to be opening enrollment, given that it is now a legal institution.
“The trouble with this crisis is twofold,” Mubarak said. “The first problem lies in the state’s refusal to implement a binding court ruling. The second problem is the timing during which the law establishing Zewail Science City was issued. The law was issued at a time where the administrative court was looking into the challenges facing its verdicts. Mubarak stated that the floundering decisions made by a number of prime ministers throughout the last couple of years further complicated the crisis.”
The dispute between Zewail Science City and Nile University has been ongoing for almost two years.