President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a presidential decree Thursday amending Law 45/1972 that regulates university affairs, to include provisions to dismiss university professors who participate in on-campus political party activities.
According to a presidential statement, professors will be also dismissed for participating, inciting or assisting in violence or riots inside university campuses or any of their facilities. They will also be penalised for bringing in weapons or explosives of any kind to the university. This also includes fireworks or incendiary materials or any other tools and materials that can cause harm or put in danger individuals, facilities and possessions.
Any teaching staff member who commits any of the above violations will be referred to administrative investigation through a decree by the university’s president. The latter has been given the authority to refer the staff member to a disciplinary committee.
Hany Al-Hosseiny, Professor at the Faculty of Science at Cairo University and member of the 9 March Movement, said the amendments represent the continuation of policies treating universities only as “a security threat”.
“There are two main problems with this amendment; first is penalising acts that are hard to define and identify, and the second is criminalising things that should be allowed,” Al-Hosseiny said.
He added:”Teaching staff members have the right to participate in political parties’ activities in their work place just as any citizen.”
Amendments to the law allowing faculty dismissals without a disciplinary committee decision were given cabinet approval in September. The amendments cover a range of grounds that includes “participation in a protest with the purpose of disrupting the educational process”.
Three 9 March Movement’s members, a movement made up of university faculty members pushing for universities’ independence, received identical calls from Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb in October that the government would not go through with the amendments.
In June, Al-Sisi amended the law governing university affairs, assuming personal responsibility in appointing university heads. The move was based on a proposal from the Minister of Higher Education, which includes putting forward three suggested names for the position.
Al-Sisi can also dismiss faculty deans or university heads at the request of the relevant university councils or the Supreme Council of Universities.
“Government create fabricated crisis and deals with it instead of tackling actual important issues like worsening educational process and poor budgets,” Al-Hosseiny said.