President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Sunday appointed new deans to seven faculties in Cairo, Ain Shams, and Tanta universities for three-year terms.
The Ministry of Higher Education listed the names of the new deans in a short statement and said that the presidential decision is based on a proposal by Higher Education Minister Ahmed Abdel Khaleq.
Hany El-Hosseiny, professor at the Faculty of Science at Cairo University and member of the 9 March movement, did not comment on the recent set of appointments and said this presidential appointment was preceded by several other ones. He added that the dean of his faculty is one of those appointed by the president in one of those previous decisions.
The 9 March Movement is made up of university faculty members pushing for universities’ independence.
El-Hosseiny said the movement takes issue with the “idea of appointing deans by the president since it cancels the system where deans and university heads are chosen by faculty staff”.
“When the choice is made from outside the university, it is a violation of the independence of universities,” he added.
In June, Al-Sisi amended the law governing university affairs, assuming personal responsibility in appointing the heads of universities based on a proposal from the minister of higher education which includes three suggested names. These three names are nominated by a designated council.
Deans of faculties are appointed by the president in a similar manner, according to the amendments.
Al-Sisi can also dismiss faculty deans or university heads, at the request of the relevant university councils or the Supreme Council of Universities.
El-Hosseiny said there are around 450 faculties in universities nationwide and it cannot be taken seriously that the president appoints all of them since he is unlikely to have the detailed knowledge of the affairs of every faculty in order to appoint the most suitable candidate.
Clashes have repeatedly broken out between students and security forces and one student died after he was struck in the head during clashes in Alexandria University since the academic year began on 11 October. Additionally, more than 200 students have been arrested nationwide.
Over the past academic year, at least 16 students were killed inside their campuses and hundreds were arrested, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.