Universities shutdown called off after minister and student body reach agreement

FILE IMAGE: Striking students at North West University Vanderbijlpark Campus blocked the entrance during a violent protest.
FILE IMAGE: Striking students at North West University Vanderbijlpark Campus blocked the entrance during a violent protest.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The plan for a national shutdown of public universities has been called off.

The South African Student Union which began with action  last week has agreed to suspend their disruptions of higher education institutions following a meeting with  Minister of higher education and training Blade Nzimande.

Nzimande welcomed the move on Sunday.

This is after Nzimande agreed  with the student union that all the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)  students with debt can register provided they sign the acknowledgement of debt form and they meet the academic requirements for continued funding.

“There is a mechanism in place, agreed between NSFAS and institutions to assess financial eligibility of students who obtain a place and register for an approved programme but have not applied to NSFAS to be allowed to register while the NSFAS assessment is underway. It has also been agreed that the relevant section of the 2020 guidelines will be adapted and approved to reflect the agreements made,” Nzimande said.

Nzimande said the issue of differential incidental allowances for male and female students will be explored during 2020 for the 2021 academic year.

“Some issues were regarded as critical and were to be dealt within the shortest period of time. These are the following issues, -The matter of post-graduate and in particular students who are NSFAS recipients wishing to continue with their studies.

Student debts in the system for non-NSFAS qualifying students, student funding policy that provides N+1 and N+2 years of funding to students and the specific matters relating to UNISA students and the funding policy relating to that,” Nzimande said.

He said there are processes in place relating to mental health issues facing university students.

“The ongoing issues relating to campus safety and security were briefed discussed and there is commitment between University South Africa and the minister to continue working on these critical issues. We will continue to engage student leadership in finding solutions and urged students to fully cooperate and allow the registration and orientation processes of universities to continue peacefully so that 2020 academic year can start without any further delays,” Nzimande said.

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