Students Strike Out at Universities as New Campus Dress Codes Imposed

  • Category: Egypt
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800px Faculty of Engineering Alexandria University 1 800x380By Mai Shams El-Din for MadaMasr

Students on Egypt’s public university campuses are now subject to new dress codes that prohibit a range of fashion choices, from ripped jeans, baggy or tight fitting pants, “revealing” clothes that “that evoke the desires of male students” and galabeyas, to certain hairstyles that some administrators have called “disgusting” and judge to be at the root of issues like sexual harassment or improper university behavior. Students have struck out against the new regulations, with some saying it amounts to “moral guardianship.”

The Higher Education and Scientific Research Ministry Spokesperson Adel Abdel Ghaffar told Mada Masr on Sunday that during a meeting ahead of the new academic year, the High Council for Universities instructed university administrations to bring “discipline” back to Egyptian campuses.

“Of course students are free to wear whatever they choose, but this freedom should be practiced responsibly. The clothes students wear at universities have to be appropriate for the place they come to learn,” Ghaffar said.

When asked about what standards define what an appropriate dress code looks like, Ghaffar asserted that “respect for the university campus” was a sufficient benchmark.

The education faculty at Monufiya University was the first to take concrete steps against what it considers inappropriate attire when its media office announced on Wednesday that dean of the faculty, Hanan Yashar, had decided to ban students wearing “ripped or faded pants from campus.” According to the statement, the faculty staff have welcomed the new rule.

Mada Masr reached out to Yoshar for a response. However, she was unavailable for comment at time of publishing. She told the privately owned Youm7 newspaper earlier in October that the faculty’s board had decided to ban ripped jeans and trendy haircuts, which she described as “disgusting,” and are also hoping to combat the trend of loose pants on campus. She told the newspaper that she had already given orders to campus security to prevent students wearing them from entering the school.

Head of Kafrelsheikh University, Abdel Razek al-Dessouky, has also taken up the fight against what he described as “inappropriate clothes.” In comments to the privately owned Al-Watan newspaper on Sunday he said that students wearing unsuitable outfits would not be permitted on university grounds, asserting that it is “a place to obtain knowledge and practice good morals.” However, he added that ripped jeans were not prevalent at Kafrelsheikh, which is in a rural, conservative area.

Mohamed Hussein, a master’s student at Alexandria University, told Mada Masr that university guards have recently started barring students wearing ripped jeans and shorts from the campus. They have also prevented students smoking cigarettes from the university grounds, he added.

“This is an attempt to project the failures of Egypt’s education system on the ethics of students,” he poses. “They want to tell us these don’t stem from mismanagement, or the lack of a proper research environment, but are related to the deteriorating morals of students. This is the discourse of the ruling regime, largely.”

Another Alexandria University student, Hesham Ali, agrees. He believes that university want to transform students into a homogenous group “that can be easily controlled.”

He questioned the reasoning behind the changes to university dress codes, saying “You cannot wear ripped jeans on campus because we live in a religious, conservative society, but it’s okay to harass your female classmates, while university security watches and does nothing?”

Marwa Imam, who studies at Cairo University, is concerned as the restrictions are more heavily weighted against female students.

“Off-the-shoulder blouses and ripped jeans were subject of debate this year. The fact that students have begun commenting on what their classmates wear is just as alarming as the administration’s interference. This leads to the imposition of moral guardianship, and shows how empty academic life here is,” she asserts.

Dean of Alexandria University’s agriculture faculty, Tarek Sorour, has stated that he is specifically incensed by “clothes that expose parts of female students’ bodies.” He also expressed his dislike of religious garments like galabeyas and abayas.

In comments to the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper in September, Sorour said he was touring the campus when he saw a number of female students wearing ripped clothes that “completely violate the religious traditions and principles of the university.”

“I ordered security to follow these students and make them aware of the administration’s objections to this kind of revealing clothing,” he said. According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, he demanded that female students be prevented from from wearing revealing clothes “that evoke the desires of male students and invite them to harass [the women], as well as banning students who wear galabeyas.”

One Cairo University student, Mohamed Saeed, agrees that wearing ripped jeans on campus is inappropriate. “Education deserves a certain respect, and sanctity. Universities are not nightclubs,” he said. Saeed told Mada Masr that “there is no problem with being up-to-date, but we should not imitate everything we see.”

Imam, from Cairo University, is frustrated by students’ inability to object to the imposition of the new restrictions. “Students are no longer able to oppose anything on campus,” she said.

In March of this year Abdel Karim Zakareya, a member of Parliament’s Religious Affairs Committee, demanded the introduction of uniforms for university students. He said he aimed to propose a bill which would “aim to limit the inappropriate clothes that some students wear, like tight and ripped clothes that contravene the values and traditions of the Egyptian society.”

Zakareya has since denied these assertions in comments to Mada Masr, affirming that he has no intention of submitting a bill on student dress codes. He expressed his deep dissatisfaction with criticism leveled against him on social media by university students following the initial reports.

Higher Education and Scientific Research Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar confirmed to Al-Watan on Sunday that the ministry will not introduce a unified dress code for students, saying “this is not even an option.”

University dress codes have also extended to include target religious garments on campus, with some, like the niqab, sparking particular controversy. Most recently, several students from the arts faculty at Mansoura University submitted a formal complaint in September, accusing a professor of kicking them out of a classroom for wearing the niqab.

Gaber Nassar, former head of Cairo University, was widely criticized when he introduced a ban on the niqab on campus in 2015.

The debate around what constitutes “appropriate” university attire on Egypt’s campuses is far from new. In 2014 several universities moved to ban shorts and tight pants on campus, which has been enforced on a number of occasions.

In a a policy paper published in 2015, the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) said that choosing one’s clothing is a personal right guaranteed by the law and Article 54 of the Constitution. The paper specifically criticized universities’ interference in designating what constitutes a proper dress code.

“The authority of university administrations in organizing campus issues is not absolute. It is limited to organizing them in a way that does not infringe upon personal rights and legal status of all beneficiaries,” AFTE wrote.

Professor at Cairo University and a member of March 9 Movement for the Independence of Universities Hany al-Husseiny believes that there has recently been an “ambiguous” move toward monitoring the ethics and personal activities of students, issues which he asserted should not concern administrators.

“This exposes officials who have failed to address the real challenges in Egypt’s education system, because they have nothing serious to offer in this regard,” he said. Instead, he told Mada Masr, these individuals “try and appease the authorities and conservative elements of society by speaking about the need to restore morality.”

Controls on student behavior at university sometimes go beyond dress codes. In early October, Youm7 reported that Tanta University referred two law students to a disciplinary committee for hugging on campus. The two individuals had been embracing to celebrate the announcement of an engagement.

Responding to the incident, Tanta University President Ibrahim Salem called for the return of police to university campuses.

“Police were feared before January 25. What I have now is weak guards hired by private security firms who are poorly paid and who have no authority. Students scare them and refuse to show their IDs at the gates,” he said.

Police presence was commonplace inside Egyptian universities during the rule of former President Hosni Mubarak, a practice which was widely criticized until a 2008 court ruling banned police from public universities. The ruling was only enforced after the January 25 revolution.

Having police on campus did little to prevent serious crimes, Husseiny said, recalling the death of a Cairo University student in 2010 during a campus fight.

“I don’t understand the university administration’s insistence on banning everything they don’t like,” the professor said. “Universities are like big societies, created as a means for for students to establish social networks and engage in activities and politics. They are not just a space in which students take classes and then leave, as demanded by administrators. We are endangering the role universities play in our society with this approach.”

Increased Cost of Education Upsets Egyptian Parents

  • Category: Egypt
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market egyBy Shounaz Mekky for Arab News

Parents across Egypt are up in arms over increased tuition fees and a rise in the cost of school supplies, as children prepare to return to the classroom after their summer break.

Parents interviewed by Arab News argued that the increased cost of school items, uniforms, transport and fees had got to the point where they were now feeling “exploited,” claiming the cost of everything had doubled.

“I transferred my son from his school after they had increased their tuition and transportation fees this year,” parent Dina El-Sheribini said.
Nada Ahmad complained about her child’s transportation fees.

“In addition to the annual tuition fee increase, my son’s bus payment witnessed a 50 percent increase this year,” she said.

Regarding the prices of school items, El-Sherbini said: “The cost of school bags has doubled compared to last year.”

Ahmad added: “I’ve seen bags that at least would cost from 200 ($11) to 1,000 Egyptian pounds.”

Hanan, who has two sons, said that the cheapest school bags cost 200 Egyptian pounds “despite their poor quality.”

“When it comes to stationery, the cost is much higher compared to last year,” she added.

Ahmad said: “It’s this time of the year when parents feel most exploited. They have to cope with an increase in everything, not only school supplies and school installments, but also the prices of goods increase during this time.”

Egyptian TV show host Amr Adib explained how bad it must be for parents with low incomes by showcasing school items at their lowest prices on his show. The host concluded that a family with a low income would have to pay around 800 Egyptian pounds per child to buy everything they need for school.

It was reported on social media recently that angry parents stormed the campus of a high-end German private school in New Cairo due to an increase in fees.

To add to the feeling of discontent, an Egyptian actress posted a video on social media in which she was ranting to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi over the hike in prices of private schools.

In May, the Education Ministry announced that international school fees will increase 14 percent for the 2017-2018 school year and then another 7 percent per year.

Egypt’s Higher Education Ministry Closes Seven Fake Colleges

  • Category: Egypt
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6803822651488907260The Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Khalid Abdel Ghaffar, warned high school students on Friday about scams from fallacious educational institutions.

He pointed out that a judicial control committee from the ministry succeeded in tracking down 7 of these entities that falsely claimed they give academic certificates in a number of science branches, having not received a proper license from the ministry.

The minister issued mandates to close some of them down administratively, as well as contacting some of the governors of governorates the institutions were located in to help close others.

He also called for an announcement to inform students about these fake entities, and the need to review the ministry’s website for the official lists of institutes and colleges approved by the ministry.

The Head of the Education Sector with the ministry Al-Sayyed Atta said that fake entities didn’t obtain a license from the Ministry of Higher Education, and high school students must not deal with any educational entity except through the coordination and website of the Ministry of Higher Education.

He added that the now closed fake institutions used to grant certifications in nursing, computer science, tourism, hospitality and languages.

Egyptian students enjoy reduction in tuition fees in UK colleges

  • Category: Egypt
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mortar webBy Arabia Higher Ed Staff

Egypt signed an agreement with Imperial College London on Saturday to reduce the tuition fees of engineering faculty for Egyptian students by 50 percent, MENA news agency reported.

The Egypt's Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research on Saturday signed an agreement with Imperial College London to reduce the tuition fees of engineering faculty for Egyptian students by 50 percent.

Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar reviewed a report submitted by his First Assistant for cultural relations and missions Hossam el Mallahy on the activities of the cultural office in London.

A deal with University College London (UCL) has been renewed to cut down tuition fees for Egyptian students by 25 percent, according to the report.

Another agreement with University of Aberdeen to reduce fees for Egyptian students by 10 percent will continue, the report stated.

The minister, meanwhile, reviewed ongoing efforts by Egypt's cultural office in London in the fields of activating cooperation between Egyptian and British universities and promoting Egypt's educational institutions.

Egypt’s investments in education and health reach EGP 25bn in FY 2017/18

  • Category: Egypt
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11The Public Investment Plan of fiscal year (FY) 2017/18, initiated by the Ministry of Planning, indicates that government investments in education and health amount to EGP 24.38bn, according to a ministry press statement on Thursday.

The statement said that the package of human and social development programmes includes the allocation of EGP 7.24bn for the development of pre-university education funded by the state treasury by 91%. Meanwhile, the value of investments targeted to the development of higher education, including missions, amounted to EGP 7.91bn, funded by the state treasury by 56%.

The statement noted that the targeted government investments for the programmes of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research reached EGP1.66bn, and the state treasury will provide funds by 86%.

Furthermore, the volume of targeted investments in health care programs at the Ministry of Health is estimated at EGP 7.57bn, of which 80% is funded by the state treasury.

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