Student sit-in outside ministry marred by violence

Fighting broke out on the steps of the Ministry of Higher Education on Thursday, after students staging a ten-day sit-in were subjected to a hail of missiles thrown down from the ministry building. Some students were hit by the missiles, which included bags of cement and water, prompting some to attempt to storm the building.

Other students at the sit-in tried to prevent the building being stormed, and the two groups of students engaged in a shoving match. The glass doors of the building were smashed, and security guards attempted to push the students back from the entrance using fire extinguishers.

Several people were injured in the clashes, and the flow of traffic on Kasr al-Aini Street was temporarily halted as the fighting spilled onto the street.

The trouble broke out as frustration mounted over the refusal of authorities to accede to the industrial education students' demands. They have been protesting on a number of issues, but have met with little success.

For one thing, the students say the ministry of education has extended the number of years of education required for a bachelor's degree in engineering, which they say deprives them of membership of the Engineering Syndicate and diminishes their chances of finding jobs. Technical students are required to study for four years in order to graduate as technicians, not engineers.

In the past, industrial education students were able to study engineering for an additional year in order to obtain a bachelor's degree in engineering. However, under the new rules, the same students are required to study for an additional four years to graduate as engineers.

In light of the apparent intransigence of the ministry on these issues, many students recently raised the ceiling of their demands, calling for the removal of Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Amr Salama.

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