Security forces could enter the campus of the University of Khartoum only with the permission of the university director, according to the terms of a new draft law put forward by a legal team at the university.
The draft law, which needs a series of approvals before it can take effect, is the product of a year’s work by a committee in the university’s Faculty of Law. Its presentation comes against a backdrop of continuing political unrest in Sudan, five months after a military coup led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan last October. Academics have been in the forefront of protests against the overthrow of civilian rule.
The new draft law sets out regulations and procedures for the conduct of university affairs. It also emphasizes the university’s independence from political interference in academic, administrative and financial matters.
Al-Fanar Media has been given exclusive access to the text of the draft law. Following are some of its key provisions.
The draft law stresses that the university is “an independent body, with legal personality, successive capacity, and general seal.”
It states that “no state agencies, regular forces, or semi-regular forces may enter the campus under the pretext of the public order, any security or criminal reasons, or prosecution for any claim related to freedom of thought, research, or political action, without permission from the university director or his/her authorised representative.”
“No state agencies, regular forces, or semi-regular forces may enter the campus under the pretext of public order or any security or criminal reasons … without permission from the university director or his/her authorised representative.”From the University of Khartoum’s new draft law
It also gives the university the right to sue.
Academic Research Freedom
The draft law says faculty members, employees, and students enjoy freedom of thought and belief, can conduct research, and may not be discriminated against on campus or during any university activities. It also states that no person can be prevented from attending the university or holding a job there based on religion, race, gender, intellect, or disability, except as required by the nature of the study or work.
The University Council
The draft law creates a University Council consisting of a president and a deputy from outside the university and 12 other members. Those members include four deans of faculties, institutes or other academic units; two university faculty members chosen by the Professors Council; two non-faculty staff members; heads of the university’s legal union bodies; the president of the university students’ union; and an alumni representative.
The University Council will also include 12 members from outside the university, with academic competence and experience. The outside members will be chosen based on recommendations from the Professors Council.
The University Council will be responsible for the university’s academic, administrative, and financial performance, and may take whatever decisions it deems appropriate to achieve the university’s goals.
The council’s responsibilities include setting policies and determining the numbers of students to be admitted and their academic specialisations.
The draft law states that the University Council is responsible to the National Council for Higher Education and Scientific Research.
The law also requires that “every member of the University Council who has a direct or indirect interest in any matter or subject under consideration before the Council shall declare that interest to the Council. The member should not participate in the deliberations, make a recommendation, or make a decision in that matter or subject.”
The Professors Council is an academic council at the university. It consists of the university director and deputy director, the secretary of academic affairs, the dean of the College of Graduate Studies, the dean of student affairs, the dean of libraries, the deans of faculties, and others.
“Every member of the University Council who has a direct or indirect interest in any matter or subject under consideration before the Council shall declare that interest to the Council.”From the University of Khartoum’s new draft law
The Professors Council is responsible for approving, amending, or canceling courses, plans and programmes submitted by the faculties, institutes and other academic units of the university. It also is responsible for setting strategies to encourage scientific research, authorship, translation, and publishing. It also has the right to recommend creating university branches inside or outside Sudan.
The council also has responsibility for approving final exams results and awarding degrees.
Electing the University Director
The draft law stipulates that all faculty members elect the university director. The Professors Council forms an election committee and decides all nomination and voting procedures.
The draft also requires university leadership candidates to be faculty members with high academic qualifications, experience, and administrative and professional competence. The university director would hold the post for four years and may serve a maximum of two terms.
Withdrawal of Confidence
The draft law sets out a mechanism for withdrawing confidence from the university director and vice rector. Both the University Council and the Professors Council can do this if three quarters of the members agree. If the university director or deputy director loses a vote of no confidence, new elections should be held to fill the vacant post.
In faculties whose deans are elected, faculty members may withdraw confidence from their dean by a two-thirds majority vote. If a dean loses a vote of no confidence, the university director will remove the dean and appoint a new one.
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