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Northern Sudan university refuses to enrol Darfuri students

March 1 - 2016 DONGOLA
Darfuri students (file photo Unamid)
Darfuri students (file photo Unamid)

The problem of non-registration of Darfuri students at the University of Dongola, Sudan’s Northern state, continues to unfold over unclarity about the exemption from tuition fees.

The university administration refuses to register the students “because they did not honour their commitments in the past year”, the head of the Darfuri Students Union at Dongola told Radio Dabanga on Monday. “The administration gave us a deadline to come up with the tuition fees from the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA). However, the Authority did not give us anything,” Mohamed Adam Mohamed said.

The administration requested the students present a letter from the DRA that confirms its commitment to pay the outstanding amount, and a second letter that confirms the students’ Darfuri origins.

“We have been to Khartoum three times to visit the DRA office,” Mohamed stressed, saying that the phone numbers of the coordinators were shut down and that the students do not know the reasons of their absence.

In April 2014, Darfuri students in Dongola witnessed a very similar situation when the administration demanded proof of their origin in order to be exempted from tuition fees. After doing so, the students were surprised to hear that each of them still had to pay the full fee, weeks before their exams took place.

Protesting students at the time were referred by the dean’s office to consult with the DRA.

Dr Salah El Doma, an official related to the DRA told Radio Dabanga in January that Darfuri students at Sudanese universities can always apply for exemption from tuition fees. “The application forms [for exemption] are available at all study centres and university sites free of charge.” His committee has provided assistance to more than 17,000 Darfuri students in the past few years “despite difficulties in many aspects”.

Dongola University was the scene of fighting between students in May 2015. 8 Darfuri students shortly disappeared after students who support the ruling party stormed and torched their residences, and took several Darfuris with them.

Exemption: It was agreed in the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur that Darfuri students are exempted from tuition and exam fees. The stipulation in the Doha peace document was later enforced in an agreement between the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) and the federal Ministry of Higher Education. Nevertheless, several Sudanese universities have refused or evicted Darfuri students because they could not afford to pay the fees. They have also been increasingly subjected to discrimination, assaults, and detention since 2014.


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