Zainab al-Hawari, a third-year pharmacy student at Al-Neelain University, a public institution in Khartoum, has not been able to attend classes since last year due to protests that swept the country and a government decision to shut down public universities. Although a new academic year was announced this month, al-Hawari has not yet gone back to her university because of fears about her safety.
“The situation at public universities is very fragile and difficult,” she said.
Sudan suspended studies at its 36 public universities 10 months ago in the aftermath of popular protests that erupted in mid-December and led to the ouster of former President Omar al-Bashir four months later. (See a related article, “Sudan Shutters All Its Universities.”)
In September, the Ministry of Higher Education announced the reopening of public universities at the discretion of the university presidents. But study at Khartoum’s main universities has not yet resumed for several reasons.
One of the main issues is restoring campus security, to alleviate students’ and professors’ fears.
Al-Hawari said some students loyal to the military and the former ruling party are stockpiling weapons on campuses, “and the university guards support them.”
She also pointed to recent violence at Omdurman Islamic University, where some students were able to enter the campus with bladed weapons and clashed with other students, injuring some of them.