Students embark on university 'national shutdown'

The SA Union of Students, student representative presidents and secretary-generals have resolved to embark on a national shutdown of all universities until their demands are met.
The SA Union of Students, student representative presidents and secretary-generals have resolved to embark on a national shutdown of all universities until their demands are met.
Image: SANDILE NDLOVU

A national shutdown of universities is currently under way at some public universities across the country.

This is after the SA Union of Students (Saus), student representative presidents and secretary-generals met at the weekend and resolved that they should embark on a national shutdown of all universities until their demands are met, reports SowetanLIVE.

Saus national spokesperson Thabo Shingange said students from vulnerable and "missing-middle" backgrounds cannot register due to historic debt.

β€œ Poor students cannot further their postgraduate studies and are sitting at home without funding, and thousands of students cannot get meaningful employment because their academic records are withheld by their institutions,” Shingange said.

"We are calling for a solution-driven response to ensure that poor students are not denied access to institutions of higher learning.”

The universities affected so far are Unisa, University of Mpumalanga, Central University of Technology, University of Free State and North West University - Vaal.

The Sowetan reported on Monday that demands by the student body also include " revision of the department's bursary guidelines to include submissions made by SRC presidents last year, especially on off-campus student allowances and free sanitary towels for women students, and that there should be food security for hungry poor students who are unfunded."

According to the Sowetan, Nzimande said the department had provided significant funding towards the eradication of historic debt for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) qualifying students.

"I am aware there is significant student debt within the university system owed by students who are not NSFAS beneficiaries. Unfortunately, public funds for the university system are constrained and there is no possibility that debts of students who are not NSFAS qualifying can be eradicated by government.

"The department is also working to develop a regulatory framework for university fees which will in the longer term ensure fees are kept at affordable levels," Nzimande said.

- SowetanLIVE


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