Unisa to meet with student leaders over 'national shutdown'

Student Representative Council (SRC) undergrad officer Victor Phenyo addresses students outside Unisa's Florida Campus on January 7. The SRC has called for a national shutdown over the exclusion of thousands of students from registering for the 2019 academic year.
Student Representative Council (SRC) undergrad officer Victor Phenyo addresses students outside Unisa's Florida Campus on January 7. The SRC has called for a national shutdown over the exclusion of thousands of students from registering for the 2019 academic year.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo/Sunday Times

The University of South Africa (Unisa) is expected to meet with disgruntled Student Representative Council (SRC) members on Tuesday morning.

Unisa spokesperson Martin Ramotshela said the meeting is scheduled to take place at 9am.

"We are going in there with a  lot of optimism, because they have raised these issues themselves," said Ramotshela. "Whatever they have raised in the memorandum of demands, we will look at each demand and deliberate." 

On Monday, the institution urged all its students to register online after several campuses across the country were affected by the SRC's call for a national shutdown. Various campuses have been affected in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, as well as in Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Polokwane and Parow in Cape Town. 

Student representatives in the Eastern Cape said the shutdown was aimed at resolving challenges related to access to and development of higher learning at campuses in the province.

“We want Unisa to improve the NSFAS [national student financial aid scheme] service by improving the administration. Unisa students don’t get meals and accommodation, so now we are saying we should be given the same service as NFSAS students in other universities," said Eastern Cape SRC deputy chairperson Lungile Mnukwa.

“NSFAS students are getting laptops and not book allowances, so they [NSFAS] are saying students should choose between the two. We want NSFAS to cater for both.” 

Other student demands and concerns included:

  • CCTV and security control in study and examination spaces;
  • The "failure of PE management to manage fairly, without discrimination, favouritism, exploitation and neglect of students on contracts given to them for skills development";
  • The need for an ICT technician, ICT repairs for students and particularly those who require Arcswid  [advocacy and resource centre for students with disabilities] support;
  • Study material efficiency and greater accessibility of tutorial and research classes for students; and
  • A proposal for companies hired by Unisa to offer internships, placement and skills-development funding for Unisa students.

Student representatives said the institution would remain locked down until the demands were met. 

Source: TMG Digital 

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