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: May 14, 2024

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Abdelmalek Saadi University

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Morocco

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On May 14, 2024, it was reported that the president of Abdelmalek Saadi University had announced the suspension of two students from the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy for two academic years for engaging in a peaceful boycott of classes.

Medical students studying at the faculties of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy at Morocco’s public universities voted to boycott classes on December 16, 2023. The vote followed two years of protests after the Moroccan Ministries of Health and Higher Education reduced the length of medical studies from seven to six years, a change that the students believe will reduce the quality of their education.

The institution’s disciplinary council held a hearing on the two students’ actions on March 28. The council made a recommendation to suspend the two students, which the university’s president approved.

Medical students were also suspended at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy in Rabat (see report) and Mohammed I University in Oujda (see report). In total, disciplinary councils at public faculties of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy across Morocco summoned 67 current and former student representations, with 15 students suspended, one expelled, and others receiving warnings.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the suspension of peaceful student protesters. While university authorities have an obligation to take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of students and university personnel and should endeavor to prevent disruptions that inappropriately inhibit the functioning of or access to higher education, they must do so consistent with their responsibility to ensure academic freedom and free expression on campus. The punishment of nonviolent student expression undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.