SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: March 20, 2022

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):University of Khartoum

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Sudan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 20, 2022, members of the Association of Students of the College of Arts prevented the director of the University of Khartoum, Fadwa Abdel Rahman Taha, from leaving the university over her refusal to postpone exams. 

Prior to the incident, the students delivered a memorandum to the director regarding her recent decision to allow an alternate test date to students who missed exams due to a boycott over the refusal to postpone those exams. The memorandum rejected the decision, which had been proposed by the College of Arts Council, and requested the university to provide two opportunities for them to take the exam instead. It appears that she did not take it, angering the students.

Speaking with Al Rakoba, the director described how the students were waiting for her outside and, when she got into a car to exit the university, they blocked the gate, preventing the car from leaving. She then attempted to leave on foot, but the students again blocked her path. After that, she decided to reenter the building and take shelter in her deputy’s office, where she called the dean of the College of Arts. She alleges that one student followed closely behind her and took pictures of her. When the dean arrived, he facilitated dialogue between the students and the director and agreed to review their memorandum, but the students refused to issue an apology to the director.

Afterwards, the Council of Deans held an emergency meeting and formed an investigative committee to review the incident. They also condemned the students’ behavior and suspended interactions with the Association of Students of the College of Arts until the group issued a formal apology to the director.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by students restricting the movement of a university official. Although students have the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, they are obligated to exercise them peacefully and responsibly. In addition to harm to the immediate victim, the restriction of a university official’s movement undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.