Egypt's Minister for Higher Education, Mostafa Musaad, has announced the cabinet's final approval of new student body regulations which will be introduced according to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s new Constitutional Declaration, ratified in December, he said.In a statement released on Thursday, Musaad claimed student union elections would begin in February during the second semester, highlighting the need for them to be held "within a framework of democracy and total impartiality among competing students."
The formation of nationwide student unions had long been a source of conflict between Islamist students and universities’ campus security under former President Hosni Mubarak's regime. Many students were arrested before elections to prevent them from standing as candidates or voting.
Opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood have meanwhile claimed that the new bylaws would benefit the Egypt Student Union [ESU], largely controlled by Ikhwan supporters. There is no consensus within the student body, some have argued.
More than 24,000 candidates applied for student elections on campuses across Egypt in March last year, despite widespread protests against President Morsi’s decision to conduct elections according to the so-called “state security bylaws,” introduced by the late President Anwar Sadat in 1979, allegedly to clamp down on student uprisings following the 1977 Bread Riots.
Opponents criticised Musaad's announcement, alleging the latest bylaws would be ratified by presidential decree and not a nationwide referendum amongst Egyptian students.