Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has introduced amendments to the university law on Tuesday to mandate that university presidents, deans and heads would be directly appointed by the president.
Prior to the 2011 revolution, all the heads of universities were appointed by the president. But after mass protests from students and faculty members following the revolution the law was changed, introducing elections amount faculty members for these top positions. The presidential decree, issues last Tuesday, is seen by many as a reversal to pre-2011 control of universities.
Now, the minister of higher education will form a committee to suggest three names for each position, and these will then be passed on to the president to make the final selection. The appointment will be for four years and is renewable, according to the Arabic language local Al-Ahram newspaper.
The president can also dismiss the heads of universities and faculties before their four-year period is over, following the advice of the Supreme Council of Universities.
The presidential decree has angered several faculty members, who see this as a return to autocratic control of universities and their campuses.
Hany El-Husseiny, a founding member a founding member of the 9 March Movement for the Independence of Universities, told Al-Ahram Online that the decree shows that the current regime is committed to adopt a dictatorship and reject democracy, adding that the faculty members will not accept it and will not be silenced.
The 9 March Movement was created in 2005 to fight for academic independence and an end to police interference on campus, and includes several prominent researchers and professors from different disciplines and different universities.
The past year has seen a sharp increase in violence in university campuses, leading to the death and arrest of several students. Ever since the popularly-backed coup in 30 June 2013 that deposed of then President Mohamed Morsi, students that oppose the coup have held protests on campuses that were often violently dispersed by police interference.
Some faculty members have welcomed the decree, hoping it will bring stability in universities and remove supports of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was recently deemed a terrorist organization by the Egyptian government, from top leadership positions in universities.