A sudden decision to hold student elections A new confused step in High Education Policies

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AFTE condemns the consumed and nontransparent nature of ongoing High Education policies, regarding the sudden and unexpected ministerial decision to start procedures for student union elections nationwide based on the old students’ bylaws, resulting in a wave of anger that translated into a protest sit in at Cairo university and demonstrations in several Egyptian universities.

The decision was made a few days after the minister’s decision of the participation of student unions in the national assembly drafting the constitution and his meeting on Thursday, the 15th of March with a number of student union representatives as well as Muslim Brotherhood (MB) students.

The step comes following widespread consultations and debates starting the second academic term of last year in an attempt to reach a consensus regarding a new students’ bylaws which democratically regulate students activities after the 25th of January revolution. The last draft, discussed last month, was not welcomed by the students and hence the debate was opened again. However, last Thursday the 15th of March, and despite the ongoing discussions, the minister decided to surprise everyone by deciding to open the door for student union nominations according to the 2007 bylaws in total disregard of students demands of bylaws amendment.

It is noteworthy that AFTE had filed a constitutional case in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of the current students bylaws (case no. 83/31) which is currently being looked into by the committee of experts of the court. Our case was based on the violation by the current bylaws of the university regulating laws and provisions of the 1971 constitution both in form and content, since presidential decree no. 340/2007 prohibits the amendment of the bylaws in the absence of parliamentary consultation.

Furthermore the badly reputed bylaws holds several restrictions on political students activities on campus, imposes excessive restrictions on nomination such as fee payment (in which case the respective student is subject to punitive measures) and deprives affiliate and foreign students from nomination and voting. It also gives the dean of the faculty the right to appoint the union in the absence of quorum. It restricts student participation in regulating their affairs and requires prior administrative permission for any student activity.

On the other hand, students from different political groups – such as “Cairo university students’ union”, “Helwan university students union”, “students of the popular socialist alliance”, “Hakkena (our rights) students movement”, students of the movement of revolutionaries at faculty of engineering, Cairo University, students of the revolutionary socialists, students of “resistance” movement, 6th of April movement, Kefaya movement, Tahrir movement, revolutionary committees at Cairo Universities, free students of Ain Shams university, students for justice and freedom, “Liars” campaign students at Cairo university – refused to participate in those elections based on their rejection of the restrictive bylaws and determined to support their demand on bylaws that guarantee and secure the rights and freedoms of students first. Student of the MB decided they will participate in the elections, claiming to defend the rights of students to chose their representatives.


AFTE’s view is that the ministerial decisions are autocratic, vague and not transparent and violate the rights of students to decide on their affairs. For more than 10 months students have been calling and working on alternative bylaws. However, the ministry decided to ignore the aspirations of students for a new academic environment and went ahead with its decision, disregarding students demands for freedom and democracy.

AFTE supports the right of students to peaceful protests against those elections and wonders whether the haste of the ministry was related to the its decision to appoint a “chosen” students delegation to participate in the drafting committee of the constitution. Furthermore such hasty elections deprive students of the time needed to properly advocate for their different programs and visions.

AFTE believes that students elections should not be limited to political consensus of students belonging to one or another political groups but should be open to the widest possible student participation, guided by bylaws that truly represent students concerns. Egyptian universities have a long way to go reclaiming the importance of students unions as representative bodies after decades of their monopoly by the state controlled administration.

محتوى المدونة منشور برخصة المشاع الإبداعي نَسب المُصنَّف 4.0