The escalating on-campus violence during the last academic year left 15 students killed and 257 suspended, said official June 30 fact-finding committee spokesperson Amr Marwan.
While the number of students killed has not been disputed, a nationwide student campaign reports that the number of suspensions are at least twice that given by Marwan.
The below chart shows a breakdown of the suspended students across the three universities, according to the official report.
Mariam Mohamed, a representative from The University is for the Students campaign, told Mada Masr that she estimates suspensions during the last academic year (2013-2014) to be around 600, mostly across the Cairo, Al-Azhar and Ain Shams universities, as well as other universities such as Mansoura.
The numbers include those temporarily or permanently suspended, as well as those whose suspension has been revoked.
Mohamed’s campaign targets administrative violations against students for their political activity, and supports those suspended or arrested randomly during violent events. Mohamed told Mada Masr that most of those suspended were never referred for investigation according to the Law Organizing University Affairs (LOUA), and in some cases were not even notified of their suspension.
The Cairo University student referred to Article 184 of the LOUA, which was amended following a presidential decree in March. The amendments gave university presidents broad powers to suspend students for a wide range of crimes, and allowed disciplinary committees to interrogate students and issue a final decision in only one week.
The list of accusations on which university students could be suspended include harming university property, the educational process, exams and university personnel, as well as inciting other students to do violent acts.
According to the amended article, students can only appeal decisions in front of the Supreme Administrative Court.
Mohamed slammed the amendment, saying that the accusations leveled at suspended students are very broad and can be easily interpreted to target any student, and that even the guidelines mentioned in the article are not followed.
“Students are not notified of their suspension, let alone of their referral for investigation,” she said.
“Before this amendment, students had more choices for judicial appeals. They used to present an appeal in front of the same disciplinary committee, then in front of the Administrative Court. The Supreme Administrative Court was the last resort,” she added. “Abolishing all these appeal options leave students with limited choices to save their futures.”
In a report, the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) demanded the article’s cancellation, adding that the normal administrative procedures for disciplinary committees are enough to face any alleged attempts of violence by the students.
“Suspending students through a decision by the university president has no legal wisdom behind it, and [does not benefit] the public interest, as it harms the educational process,” AFTE added.
Another decision by the Supreme Council of Universities in October to ban suspended students from joining private universities has added yet more fuel to the fire.
“It is part of the general atmosphere of limiting academic freedom. The regime is working on punishing these students due to their political stances,” AFTE researcher Mohamed Nagui told Mada Masr following the decision. “The government is jeopardizing their futures in order to send a message that any political dissent will be met with zero tolerance.”