President Mohamed Morsi met on Saturday with 44 student union heads and deputies at the presidential palace.
The meeting which lasted for almost two hours was meant to allow students to present problems they face at universities and possible means of improving education. All public universities were represented in the meeting.
Morsi began the meeting with a half-hour speech where he addressed general issues regarding the revolution and the youth’s role in it, said Mustafa Saad, deputy head of Cairo University’s student union. Ahmed Abdel Rahman Al-Bareq, head of Al-Azhar University’s student union, said Morsi’s speech was highly motivating to the students.
The president stated that the revolution is waiting on its youth to take part in building Egypt’s renaissance. He added that this can be achieved by pursuing scientific methods and modern technology.
The meeting also hosted a time allotted for hearing problems from which each university suffers, Saad said. He stated that CairoUniversity complained about the small number of ambulances available in the university and about fees. Al-AzharUniversity addressed the recent occurrences of food poisonings in Al-Azhar’s dormitories.
“The president thoroughly discussed the food poisoning issue,” Saad said. “He stated that he’s closely following it.”
The University of Alexandria complained about reports filed against 36 of its students. Morsi condemned the reports, saying that no students should ever be detained during his mandate. He asked the students to supply him with the names of the 36 students, Saad said.
The president said he will not allow any infringement on students’ rights, adding that it is the state’s responsibility to provide students with adequate services and support them in a manner that allows them to focus on their studies.
The main problems addressed by most representatives revolved around security on campuses, the status of student dorms and the arrest of students, Saad said. Al-Bareq said the president stated that private security companies would be hired to secure universities. He added that two committees were formed; one to look into the status of dorms and another to deal with student arrests.
The president also promised to draft governing bylaws for private universities, Al-Bareq said.
Saad stated that a minor problem arose as Hesham Ashraf, head of Cairo University’s student union, was going to speak to the president.
“The republican guards told him the meeting was over and that the president needs to tend to other obligations,” Saad said. Ashraf was upset, asking how the representative of almost quarter a million students could not be given the floor. “The president noticed, he called for Ashraf, took him in his arms and heard him out.”
Saad said he presented Morsi with a list of student demands at Cairo University.
“We did our best and we remain optimistic that this meeting will be fruitful,” Saad said.
Al-Bareq said the meeting was very fruitful and fulfilling. “We asked the president to repeat this opportunity soon,” he said.
Egyptian universities have been facing several hardships lately. Last Sunday students took to the streets during a protest they entitled the “day of student rage”.