A group of Nile University students organised a protest outside the High Court building in Cairo downtown on Wednesday as the first step of their promised escalation.
Nile University has been fighting with Zewail City, established by Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail, over a piece of land which both universities claim to be their own.
The students demonstrated outside the High Court building in protest to the delay in carrying out an Administrative Court verdict giving Nile University the right to use the buildings on the disputed land.
Nile University students released a statement last Thursday vowing to escalate and carry out protests on the disputed property on Monday. The protests were nevertheless postponed after Minister of Higher Education Hossam Eissa stated a meeting between Nile University and Zewail City officials would be held soon to look into the dispute.
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) called on Eissa to either carry out the Administrative Court verdict or to “clearly announce that Nile University’s contenders and Zewail are above the law … and thus he [Eissa] is incapable of preserving the rights of Nile University and its students.”
ANHRI stated that Eissa’s deadline for resolving the dispute elapsed on Tuesday, adding that Eissa’s promise to resolve it has now become a duty. In a statement released on Tuesday, the organisation said Eissa must resolve the dispute before next Sunday, which is the scheduled date for the beginning of Zewail City’s academic year.
On Monday, the Zewail City board of trustees issued a decision exempting all the university’s 300 students of their university fees for their entire duration of study.
Hanan Ezzat, the city’s communication director, said the exemption came in accordance with the deteriorating economic conditions following the latest instability in Egypt. She added that the board of trustees wanted to reward the university’s 300 students, who are all top students with a high school score of at least 98.4%.
“The cost of educating one student at Zewail University is EGP 80,000,” Ezzat said, adding that the actual tuition fee has not been disclosed. “Either way, the university depends on its expenses on citizens’ donations; it’s from the Egyptian people to the Egyptian people.”
Nile University students accused Zewail City of creating a situation of “fait accompli” through admitting students to a university which “remains an illusion.”
Ahmed Nasssar, a Nile University student, said: “We have previously warned Zewail City’s students not to enrol in a university mired with conflicts.”
ANHRI warned that the situation of admitting students into Zewail City during the current conflict might lead to violence between the new students, whom ANHRI described as “not to blame for their illegal position”, and Nile University students, whom ANHRI stated “are entitled to the disputed lands.”
The Administrative Court ruled in April on the dispute, giving Nile University students the right to the disputed lands and buildings.
Zewail filed an appeal to the verdict to the Supreme Constitutional Court stating that the Giza Court ruled in favour of Zewail City in 2012. He called for stalling the Administrative Court’s decision since it was appealed yet going forward with the Giza court’s decision since it wasn’t appealed. He also called for ruling on the two conflicting verdicts.
Since the Administrative Court’s decision, Nile University students have not been granted access to the disputed buildings.