NMMU to remain closed 'until further notice'

OCTOBER 11, 2016

While it is expected to appear in the Grahamstown High Court on Tuesday over its continued shutdown, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) on Monday said that its campuses will remain closed.

"In light of the present volatility in the higher education sector countrywide today [Monday], academic activities remain suspended at NMMU until further notice," the university said in a brief statement.

The 'countrywide volatility' that the university referred to was mainly witnessed at the University of Witswatersrand were students again stopped classes from resuming and ended in violent clashes with police on the streets of Braamfontein in Johannesburg. Some businesses in the area were also looted.

At the NMMU, management and #FeesMustFall protesters are also at an impasse - and it remains to be seen if the NMMU will follow up on its threat earlier on to shutdown the institution if normalcy does not return. The deadline for students to return to classes is this week, but students have vowed to fight on - even at the threat of losing this academic year.

If the NMMU does shutdown for the year, many students may have to graduate or repeat this semester in 2017. It's  a particularly worrisome prospect for international students, especially final year international students, who will have to go through the strenuous process of getting student visas again and funds, as well as paying parents, who stand to lose part of the money that they paid for their children's fees and other costs.

Consequently, rather than lose their monies, a group of parents last week went on the offensive and formed an association that is taking the NMMU to court to force it to open its doors.

They hope that if they succeed, the NMMU should resume academic business on Thursday.

On its part, the NMMU has also been trying to engage the protesting students and last week announced plans to resume the year on Monday, before cancelling those plans on Friday night.