University of Khartoum students have been protesting conditions like overcrowding, poor sanitation, theft and violence on campus, but the authorities disagree who is responsible for improving matters.
“We face major problems … such as overcrowded rooms, the constant power outages, and overflow of sewage in front of the university dormitories,” said Yousif Idris, a veterinary medicine student at the University of Khartoum and a spokesman for students who organized a recent sit-in.
There was also a “lack of guards designated to secure the housing against any illegal act,” he said.
An official statement from the University of Khartoum, a copy of which was obtained by Al-Fanar Media, said students also complained about mosquitoes, drug traffickers, extremist religious activities including training with firearms and knives, and multiple thefts in female students’ dormitories.
Yousif Tajeddin, a fourth-year engineering student, accused the university administration of corruption after it rented out a room that should have been allocated to him for free.
Tajeddin lives in Damazin, the capital of Sudan’s Blue Nile State, which is about 300 miles from the campus.
Allegations of Corruption in Housing
“I have been deprived of my right to free university housing and consequently to normally pursue my studies because of the corruption of the administration that admits students from other universities for a fee of about 2,000 Sudanese pounds (about $5) at the expense of those who are actually entitled to housing,” he said.
Housing is usually provided by the government-run National Student Welfare Fund, an institution set up in 1992 to provide comprehensive support and care to students. Last year, Tajeddin said, the fund’s management informed him and about 300 other students that it was not possible to provide them with university housing.
“The situation is so bad that it has become almost impossible to study. The only good difference today is that we can go out to express ourselves and protest, which was not possible in the past.”Rajia Fattah
A student at the University of Khartoum
According to Idris, the fund was one of the richest government facilities, directly funded by the presidency under the previous regime, but it currently houses more than 1,500 students in accommodations that are designed for 600 students. (See a related article, “Sudan’s Revolution, Phase 2: Universities Seek Independence.”)
In an official statement, Fadwa Taha, chancellor of the university, agreed that University of Khartoum students were living in “miserable” conditions and said the university should supervise their housing financially and administratively instead of the Student Welfare Fund.
However, Ahmed Al-Bashir Muhammad Al-Hassan, director of the fund, rejected the proposal in a television interview, saying it would add to the administrative and economic burden on the university administration.
Violence Against Students
The university statement noted allegations by students that a murder had been committed in one of the dormitories, but it gave no details.
This month, students at Omdurman University also said they had witnessed a murder when one of them was stabbed by three people who tried to steal his phone while he was walking from the university dormitory to his college building.
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Demands raised at the sit-in included greater protection, such as fencing the university on all sides, placing guards at entrances, and preventing non-students from entering university housing.
Rajia Fattah, a student in the Faculty of Economic and Social Studies at the University of Khartoum, said female students’ housing suffers from the same problems as men’s accommodations and that many women quit studying. Although the problems are not new and date back to 2017, she said, they have worsened this year.
“The situation is so bad that it has become almost impossible to study,” she said. “The only good difference today is that we can go out to express ourselves and protest, which was not possible in the past.”