Universities in Egypt have been experiencing violence and unrest that has caused military-backed authorities to order police deployment on campuses to maintain order during the mid-year examinations that run until late January.
Several universities have experienced violent protests by students backing ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. The students have been accused of torching several campus buildings of Egypt’s Islamic seminary and attacking lecturers believed to be supporting the military.
At least three students have been killed in the unrest, while more than 100 others have been arrested on charges of involvement in violence.
The Higher Council for Universities, which is in charge of academic institutions in Egypt, has said that the decision to deploy police on campuses is aimed at “foiling” an alleged plan by pro-Morsi students to disrupt the mid-year exams.
According to President of the state-owned Zagazig University, Ashraf el-Sheehi, and a member of the council, the council has also decided to ban demonstrations in universities during the exam period. Despite this ban, the protests still continue.
Changes across Europe for 2014
2013 proved to be a difficult year for higher education particularly in Southern and Eastern Europe with significant cuts to academic funding widespread and a general decline in third level students.
This year governments are also imposing strict laws and fees on immigration that will see a further decline in the flow of third level students into Europe. Head of the Higher Education Funding Council Janet Ilieva, predicts that most of the growth in international enrolments in 2013/14 will be driven by undergraduate students from China, Malaysia and Brazil and from international scholarships.
Africa is set to experience the highest growth in third level education in the medium to long term. Thanks to the last minute agreement by the European Parliament to the EU budget for 2014 to 2020, the higher education sector in the European Union can look forward to a more comfortable start to 2014.
Hope came in the form of a new programme, Horizon 2020, which will see a €79 billion budget and a €14.7 billion for Erasmus+ over the next seven years. The 40% increase in the budget for Erasmus+ will provide opportunities for more than four million Europeans to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer abroad.
Kenyan university affected by riots
The University of Nairobi in Kenya was shut last weekend following two days of rioting sparked by the death of a student in a police cell. Erastus Abok, a second year engineering student, was arrested after allegedly attempting to commit arson at the university. Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo described the incident as death by suicide.
During the protests students stoned motorists and set about destroying property in the central business district of the capital. ”We want the police to explain the circumstances under which the student died. The explanation that he committed suicide cannot be true,” says University of Nairobi student leader James Kinuthiah
Police claimed that Abok was facing disciplinary action at the university after he was found cheating in an exam the day before he died and that he had been arrested after allegedly trying to bomb the office where his papers were stored. Parents and lecturers who are unhappy with the disruptions have labelled it as an excuse for students to get time off.