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Diploma studies suspended after students torched university building

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KHARTOUM, Aug 4 (AFP) — The University of Sudan has suspended all diploma courses indefinitely after student riots torched a university building in Khartoum, an official statement said Monday.

Twenty students were arrested Sunday after a group of demonstrators set fire to a building, demanding their engineering diplomas be upgraded to a degree.

"A group of students insisted on obstructing studies by forcing sit-ins that on Sunday escalated into subversion and arson," said a statement from the university’s director of Science and Technology, Ahmed al-Tayeb Ahmed.

He added that "deliberately" setting fire to the building was "criminal behaviour unbecoming to university students", who should be held legally accountable for their actions.

As a result of the violence, the university suspended both two- and three-year diploma programmes indefinitely as of August 4 "to guarantee the safety of students, university property and the stability of studies in other programmes," the statement said.

Three-year engineering students want the Engineering Council — a government body that approves engineering certificates — to upgrade their qualification to a degree, it added.

The Engineering Council awarded formal, written recognition of the engineering diplomas on July 28, when the university was due to meet concerned students, who subsequently failed to show up, Ahmed said.

The university pointed out that the students enrolled as, and were accepted as, diploma students from the beginning by Sudan’s national higher education acceptance board.

The torched building housed the Faculty of Engineering’s academic, administrative and financial records and documents, Ahmed said.

Students burnt the ground and first floors, as well as a pick-up truck parked on the campus, the police told AFP.

On July 31 Sudanese riot police stormed another university campus just north of the capital, detaining 62 protestors clamouring for student union elections.

Students were charged with carrying out "subversive acts" at the University of Juba in the suburb of Kadaru, 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the city centre.

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