The Housing Ministry has sent a seven day notice to the Maldives National University (MNU) to vacate the old Jamaaluddeen School building, which houses the university’s Faculty of Sharia and Law (FSL), Faculty of Arts (FA) and Centre of Continuing Education (CCED).
Speaking during a press conference on Thursday, Housing Minister Mohamed Muiz said the notice was given following a cabinet decision on the matter. He added that the Attorney General had also advised the government in favor of the decision.
“The building that the National University is currently using is very old and no longer safe to carry out any activity. That is why I submitted the matter to the cabinet,” he said.
Muiz said the building should be vacated immediately as it was unsafe for students to study there.
“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.
Muiz said his ministry had repeatedly requested the MNU Council vacate the building, even after another building was shown to them.
Minister Muiz claimed that the government intends to demolish the building as soon as possible after MNU vacates it.
Speaking to Minivan News, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Maldives National University Dr Fayyaz Ali Manik confirmed that the university had received the letter from Housing Ministry.
“We have received the letter. However, it is not a very easy decision to make. We don’t have any choice but to stay in this building,” he said.
Fayyaz said the University had requested the government find an alternative venue to house the faculties that are currently in old Jamaaluddeen building, and denied claims by the Housing Minister that alternative premises were offered to the National University.
“We have not been given any other building. They never mentioned it,” he said.
Fayyaz reiterated that a final decision on whether to move should be decided by the university council.
“I think we got the letter this afternoon. So it would be up to the university council to decide on the matter. The council includes people who are not currently working in the university. So it may take some time to decide the matter,” he explained.
Speaking to Minivan News, President of the Law Students Society (LSS) Student association of Faculty of Sharia and Law, Mauroof Ahmed, said the students were very concerned about the issue as it directly affected their studies.
“This morning we got the news that the Housing Ministry has ordered MNU to leave this premises within seven days, and if the university fails to do so, that they will evict us by force,” he said.
“Our concern is not over leaving this place, but we want an alternative place where we can continue our studies,” he said.
Mauroof added that the LSS were planning to take their concerns to relevant authorities through student petitions.
“I even strongly believe that the FSL building is not in good shape. Every day we are putting our lives at risk by going there to study. But then again the housing ministry can’t just order us to empty the place in seven days without providing us with an alternative building,” said another student.
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.