Dire warning over university protest

Universities may shut due to safety concerns

As the #FeesMustFall student protests continue to rock universities around the country, one of the Eastern Cape’s leading tertiary education institutions, Rhodes University in Grahamstown, has threatened to shut its doors and send students home if conditions there do not normalise this week.

Students around the country restarted the protest early last week after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande handed the controversial decision around fee increases back to the universities, saying increases were up to each institution, but that they should be capped at 8%.

In an e-mail, which has been seen by The Herald, distributed to students by the registrar of Rhodes University yesterday, students were warned: “If normal activities cannot continue next week [from Monday], the University will be left with no option but to close and send all students home.”

The statement, which was issued by the vice-chancellor’s office, also said: “Continued instability will destroy our higher education system. If normal activities cannot continue next week, the university will be left with no option but to close and send all students home. [This] will have dire consequences for the town, for staff, and for students themselves who will not be able to complete the academic year.”

Rhodes University spokeswoman Carlene Royle said she could not provide any further information on the matter.

Last night, students received an SMS from the administration saying: “Formal teaching at Rhodes is suspended for 26 September. Please make use of this opportunity to engage around the fees issue at the advertised events.”

At Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth, which saw a number of student arrests during protests last week, lectures will continue to be suspended today.

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