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Student campaign launched to protest ‘commercialisation’ of UJ campus

By Suzanna Goussous - Oct 12,2015 - Last updated at Oct 12,2015

Some students at the University of Jordan are complaining of the spread of restaurant chain branches on campus (Photo by Suzanna Goussous)

AMMAN — Students and activists from the University of Jordan (UJ) launched a campaign on Sunday against “privatising” public universities and “commercialising” campuses.

The “Baouha” (they have sold it out) campaign criticises the “privatisation” of university grounds and aims to raise awareness among students regarding the hike of tuition fees, according to organisers. 

Mohammad Dmour, one of the organisers who is also a member of UJ’s student union, said the movement is one of many to protest licensing international business chains, beverage and water companies to sell their products on campus.

Many students from the Arab Renewal Bloc and independent parties joined the campaign on its first day, according to Dmour.

Organisers added that for the past four years, international companies and restaurants have been “competing” over promoting their “not-so-educational” services among students.

“This has been going on since the 1990’s,” said Alaa Hajjeh, a UJ student and activist.

“In 2012, [the university administration] announced a decision that students should pay tuition fees before enrolling… in 2014, tuition fees were hiked, and now in 2015 restaurant chains opened branches on campus,” the 24-year-old added.

“It goes against the goal that universities were established for,” he said.

Students said the “crisis” public universities are facing is due to the reduction of financial aid from the government. 

In previous remarks to The Jordan Times, a UJ official said the university used to receive around JD12 million from the government and the support recently amounts to JD1 million.

“This whole problem would be solved if the government goes back to supporting public universities again,” Hajjeh said. 

For his part, UJ Vice President for Investment Affairs Ghaleb Sweis told The Jordan Times the restaurant chains that have opened branches on campus, such as Burger King and Papa John’s, have been in Jordan for a long time.

“The decision to open these branches at UJ was due to the big number of foreigners on campus and the high demand on fast food indoors,” he added.

Sweis noted that almost 50,000 students are enrolled at UJ, in addition to around 10,000 foreigners and visitors that the campus receives daily.

“We want to provide services to our students… many Jordanians like to go to such restaurants, and around 45 per cent of their customers are international students,” he said. 

He added that many other businesses have been on campus since 2003 and students did not complain about “commercialising” the campus.

UJ, Sweis said, receives only JD70,000 annually for renting venues for the restaurants, adding that the arrangement provides job opportunities for students after their classes.


“How can the university survive if it were to stay on a fixed income with constantly increasing expenses?” he asked.

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