Students suspend protests across most of the country's universities

Student leaders have agreed to suspend protest action at most universities around the country. File photo.
Student leaders have agreed to suspend protest action at most universities around the country. File photo.
Image: Sihle Maku

Universities South Africa (Usaf) says student leaders have agreed to suspend protest action on most campuses around the country.

“Most universities are operating as normal. With the exception of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, those that experienced trouble in the past two weeks have since quietened down and orientation sessions and the academic programme got under way,” said Usaf spokesperson Mateboho Green.

Mangosuthu University of Technology shut down on Monday morning after students -who completed, for example, a diploma funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) - were demanding to be allowed to carry on with advanced diplomas, despite no longer being funded.

Some universities like UKZN (Howard and Westville campuses), University of North West (Mahikeng campus), Walter Sisulu University (Buffalo City campus) and Fort Hare University, shut down briefly over the past two weeks.

The University of Witwatersrand student representative council (SRC) embarked on a 12-hour "occupation on the 11th floor with management" on Monday, but later said their demands had been met.

The University of the Western Cape also grappled with students protests.

Green said there were commonalities on certain issues that students protested about, and sometimes differences.  

Generally it is about students with historical debt who are demanding to be allowed to register and attend classes without paying a percentage of what they already owe their institutions. Remember, universities, collectively, are owed up to R9bn in historical debt which they cannot afford to write off.

“In addition to that, there has been this persisting gripe about student accommodation, of which there is never enough across the system. This requires a systemic intervention. Universities cannot solve the problem on their own and there are discussions going on in this regard,” she said.


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