Sanaa University has dismissed a large number of its faculty and staff, in a purge widely considered as serving the Houthis' agenda by replacing them with loyalists, officials familiar with the situation tell Al-Mashareq.
The university attributes the decision to their prolonged absence, but opponents claim the aim is to get rid of those who do not support the Houthis (Ansarallah).
In an October 10th statement, the Union of University Faculty and their Assistants described the decision as "arbitrary" and called on its members to contest it.
Sanaa University is preparing to dismiss 68 professors after the university council approved the termination of more than 100 faculty members, university president Fawzi al-Saghir told Al-Mashareq.
The decision was made on the grounds that they were "absent from work for long periods of time", he said.
"The university council’s decision regarding the dismissal of 122 university staff and professors is binding after the end of the two-month grace period set for their return and reconciliation of their situations," he said.
So far, 21 professors have returned and rectified their status, he added.
"The procedures related to the dismissal of 122 professors began and were made public in March," he said. But the council did not move on this decision until October, to give those who wish to return a full opportunity to do so.
"A subsequent decision will be issued on the dismissal of more than 60 university professors who are absent from work without a clear legal justification," he said.
Union rejects decision
Meanwhile, the union said it reserves the right to take all necessary legal measures to protect the rights of its members included in the decision.
"The dismissal decision was taken by the university council based on the majority vote system," said Hisham Naji, who serves on the union's board.
Most dismissed faculty members have been replaced by Houthi loyalists, he told Al-Mashareq.
"The decision is contrary to laws and regulations and did not take into account the extraordinary circumstances of a number of professors," he said.
The university has the right to dismiss professors who have been absent for an extended period of time, Naji said. But most of the professors included in the decision fear that returning to Sanaa would "put their lives and freedom at risk".
"The circumstances of these professors must be taken into account, as they are subject to arrest as soon as they return because of their objection to the Houthis’ policies," he added.
"The union stressed to all its members the importance of confronting these actions firmly and standing against any dismissal or appointment procedure that runs contrary to the laws and regulations and academic and administrative standards," he said.
The union warned against the repeated attempts to empty Sanaa University of its qualified faculty, who are specialised in various scientific fields, he said.
The process of replacing those who have been dismissed must be done "according to academic standards and needs", Sanaa University media professor Ali al-Ammar told Al-Mashareq.
It must not be done by central appointment, he stressed, "because that runs contrary to the law and is based on the whims and wishes of influential [decision makers], be they individuals or a group".