A meeting was scheduled between the General Federation of Egypt’s Student Unions (SU) and Minister of Higher Education Ashraf Al-Shehy Sunday night in a bid to resolve the recent elections crisis, the federation said in an official statement.
The meeting follows a request made by the ministry to meet with the federation after it decided to nullify the results of the elections for SU President and Vice President on claims of forgery, following a two-week delay in announcing results.
The decision elicited widespread concern from at least 20 universities, political parties, and human rights groups.
In a conference held Sunday, the federation said it welcomed negotiations with the ministry to resolve the crisis as soon as possible. The federation’s newly elected head Abdalla Anwar previously told Daily News Egypt that “the supervising committee was aware of the conflict in voter names” and that “restarting the elections is just a waste of time; the process would take until the beginning of the new semester”.
The Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) claims that a list supported by the Future of a Nation Party and endorsed by leaders in the Ministry of Higher Education failed to win the elections and gain any seats, leading to the ministry’s decision.
The latest elections were the first after a two year hiatus. In the wake of ban on the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, universities saw students organise protests in support of the Brotherhood which led to an interruption in elections.
This upheaval has also led to the arrest of at least 700 students in different universities during the course of the academic on charges of protesting, being members of the Muslim Brotherhood and inciting riots and violence, according to AFTE’s student observatory.
The families of detained students currently enrolled at Mansoura University issued a statement Thursday denouncing an alleged ban on the students to sit their final exams. “This is not the first violation against Mansoura students; the administration has previously allowed security forces to storm campus […] When will such practices against students come to an end?” the statement read.
The families claimed deans of different faculties at Mansoura Universities told them that “they would not sit their exams no matter what”.
However, Mansoura University President Mohamed Al-Qenawy denied any attempts to ban students from sitting their exams.
In an official statement by the university administration, he said “those claims are not unfounded” and that “the university has already requested to send an examination board to where they are being detained so they could sit their exams”, according to the Supreme Council of Universities code of conduct issued last year.
Mohab Saeed, who works at the Student Observatory and is a lawyer at AFTE, told Daily News Egypt that “the problem with those students sitting their exams could be isolated and related instead to logistic and security matters.”
According to Saeed, Article 28 of the law on prisons and Article 19 of the 2014 Egyptian constitution both state that all students, detained or otherwise, have the right to sit their exams. However, he said that while police vehicles used to take students back to their universities to sit their exams, this practice has stopped because of security concerns. Instead, an examination board is now sent are sent to where the student is held.
The Asher Institute said the students will be graded on the entire subject based on their final written exam results since they have already missed the course work and the midterm exams and practical exams for some majors.
Political activist Sanaa Seif, who was detained in 2014 for protesting without a permit, was among those who sat their exams inside their place of detention. Her sister Mona said Seif received an “excellent” as a total mark for her subjects.