The higher education sector has been facing protest action since Minister Blade Nzimande’s announcement was made a week ago (Monday, 19 September) in respect of fees for 2017.
At NMMU, various student groupings, including the Student Representative Council (SRC), initially formed a coalition to collectively voice their concerns in relation to the announcement, but were divided in their approach.
By Wednesday (21 September), it emerged that the SRC was no longer part of the coalition. At close of business on Friday (23 September), NMMU had received petitions from four different student formations in Port Elizabeth and George, and responded to each by Sunday (25 September) evening (these are available on the NMMU website http://news.nmmu.ac.za).
Today’s engagements (Monday, 26 September)
NMMU held meetings with two student formations in George, and one at the Kraal on the South Campus in Port Elizabeth. The SRC also held a public meeting at the city hall where we understand that it was decided that the University should open again tomorrow (Tuesday, 27 September). NMMU has been closed since Wednesday last week.
At the meeting in the Kraal it soon became apparent that the students present were not prepared to accede to management’s request that the university re-open, while engagements continue.
The executive of the SRC approached NMMU management later in the day, advising them of their call for students to return to classes tomorrow (27 September).
In light of the above events, and the present escalating protests, tensions and violence within the sector which has seen many universities closed for more than a week, NMMU management feels it cannot safely resume operations tomorrow (Tuesday, 27 September).
To this end, the operations and academic activities of NMMU will remain suspended until further notice.
Many of the issues raised by the various student groupings are beyond NMMU’s ambit and certainly cannot be resolved in a short period of time. Others, unique to NMMU, such as its debt and down payment relief interventions, will be engaged with in consultation with students by reconvening the multi-stakeholder Financial Aid Task Team that has been functioning since the end of 2015.
We will further share contingency plans in respect of the way forward, as it is still our hope to complete the 2016 academic year as planned.
The decision to suspend University operations until further notice was not taken lightly. We recognise that it is far from ideal, especially given the present anxieties of staff, students and their families.
Communication and Stakeholder Liaison
Tel: +27 (0) 41 504 1111
Fax: +27 (0) 41 504 2574 / 2731
PO Box 77000, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa
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