Housing Minister Mohamed Muiz has said the government does not wish to forcefully evict Maldives National University (MNU) students out of the old Jamaaluddeen building, which houses the university’s faculty of Sharia and Law (FSL), Faculty of Arts (FA) and Centre for Continuing Education (CCED).
The Housing Minister had earlier sent a notice to the university giving a seven day ultimatum for it to vacate the building, which it claimed was too old and no longer safe for use.
Speaking to local newspaper Haveeru, the minister said that following the notice Chancellor of the Maldives National University Dr Zahir Hussain met with President Mohamed Waheed Hassan and raised his concern over the decision.
In response, the minister claimed the President had given his word to the chancellor that the government would not make a decision that would leave the students of MNU “homeless”.
Muiz however said that it was the mandate of his ministry to advise on the safety of government buildings and propose recommendations to the government.
He further said that the seven day notice was given in accordance with his responsibilities and repeated his claim that the building’s weakened structure posed a threat to those occupying it.
The minister claimed that technical experts had carried out analysis of the structure and recommended that it be vacated as soon as possible to avoid any unpleasant consequences.
“We will not forcefully drag the students or any staff out of the building. We will not go there with a court warrant and force the people out. It is not what we intend to do,” he said.
He further added that even the attorney general had advised not to take any legal action on the matter, but stressed that if something bad happened due to the condition of the building, he would be forced to take legal action against the university.
Housing Minister Muiz was not responding to calls at time of press.
The Maldives National University and the government have been at loggerheads over the ownership of the old Jamaaluddeen School building.
During a press conference, Muiz said the government “will not be responsible for any damages incurred by students, lecturers or anyone who uses the building”.
“We have told them to vacate the building and remove their property as well,” he said at the time.
Minister Muiz claimed that the government intended to demolish the building as soon as possible after the MNU vacated it.
However, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Maldives National University Dr Fayyaz Ali Manik told Minivan News that they could not vacate the building as government had not provided an alternate facility, despite repeated requests.
“We have not been given any other building. They never mentioned it,” he said at the time.
He further said that if the university was forced to move out, it would bring all the programs currently running to a standstill.
The Maldives National University was initially formed in 1998 as the Maldives College of Higher Education (MCHE). The institution was established to rationalise resources and assure the quality of all existing post-secondary government institutes.
In 2011 the MCHE went on to become the country’s first university, formed under the Maldives National University Act.
In November 2012, MNU announced that it would be launching the first PHD programs offered in country. The subjects offered include law and pedagogy. The university has also announced that it will also be launching programs on political science in 2013.