A number of professors in Egyptian universities, including Zagazig University, has been arrested on charges of inciting violence, protesting against the current regime, or calling for suspending study.

A number of professors in Egyptian universities, including Zagazig University, has been arrested on charges of inciting violence, protesting against the current regime, or calling for suspending study.

Some students believe that the absence of professors has adversely affected their studies. “The absence of Professor Tareq Amin against whom an arrest warrant has been issued on charges of inciting violence and demonstrating, has made students unable to understand the subject ‘Mechanical Engineering’,” says Muhammad Abdulmaqssoud, an engineering student at Zagazig University. “The postgraduate who has replaced Amin lacks teaching and scientific experience, which has pushed dozens of students to stop attending his lectures and focus on other subjects.”

Tutorials are the solution

The arrest of Professor Sadat Ali has made dozens of students resort to tutorials, says Saad Ibrahim, an agronomy student at Zagazig University. “No one has replaced Ali. We do not know whether we will have an exam in this subject or if it will be put off until next year.”

Ibrahim suggests that students not knowing about the fate of the materials that have been disrupted, due to arrested or fleeing professors is a strong indication that the educational process has been affected.

“We are trying to help”

To remedy this crisis, the Zagazig University Students Union (ZUSU) has taken several steps. A ZUSU member, Ayman Sa’eed, says the ZUSU members held a meeting after they failed to reach and communicate with the absent professors. The ZUSU has decided to disseminate shortened fascicles following discussions with alternative teachers.

“Some colleges, like the Faculty of Agriculture, have circulated fascicles free of charge,” says Sa’eed, suggesting that a number of past years’ examination questions have been distributed to students in different colleges.

Trumped up charges

The prosecuted professors are accused of inciting violence and the suspension of study. Some however believe these are essentially politicized charges. “All charges are fabricated by an illegitimate authority that rose to power above tanks and martyrs’ blood,” says Dr. Ahmad al-Hag, a professor at the School of Medicine in Zagazig University, who is wanted on charges of inciting violence and belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The wanted members of teaching staff, says al-Hag, have run away and the university has been left with no respect, prestige or dignity following the arrest of Vice-Chancellor Hamed Atiyah from his office in broad daylight without any respect whatsoever to the university or its independence. “Why does the university not defend its members? How could it allow the violation of its prestige and independence in such a horrible way?” He wonders.

Brotherhood cadres

Al-Hag estimates that, all over the country, 102 university professors have been arrested or have run away, including 15 professors at Zagazig University, most prominently former President Mohamed Morsi who is also a professor at the Faculty of Engineering, professor Hamed Atiyah, head of the Zagazig University Teaching Staff Club professor Sayyid Abdunnour; and the Brotherhood Vice-Supreme Guide prof. Mahmud Ghazlan.

Educational process unaffected

Zagazig University Acting Chancellor Ashraf Al-Shehhi says he does not know how many professors have been arrested or are wanted because he has not been duly notified by security services.  The university, says Al-Shehhi, can find alternative teachers. “We however have not announced any job vacancies since most of the absent teachers are from the Medical School, which has an abundance of professors of various specializations.”

Fired for unexcused absence

Unexcused absence subjects relevant teachers to dismissal. Al-Shehhi however says the arrested teachers face a compulsive circumstance and they therefore will not be dismissed. They even get 75 percent of their wage.

Nonetheless, says Al-Shehhi, two professors have been fired for unexcused absences; namely, Mahmud Ghazlan and political thinker Muhammad Gawadi, both professors at the Medical School. The dismissed teachers however may get their jobs back within six months as of their dismissal if they submit a memo explaining their absence and the university approves it.