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NMMU says it expects normalcy to return to its campuses

AUGUST 25, 2016
NMMU says it expects normalcy to return to its campuses

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) on Thursday morning said that after consulting widely on the impacts of a #FeesMustFall inspired shutdown at the institution on Tuesday and Wednesday, it has reached various resolutions and was hopeful normalcy will return to its campuses - particularly in Port Elizabeth.

Students aligned with the South African Students Congress (SASCO) blocked entrances to the university in response to a call by the SASCO Eastern Cape leadership that all campuses in the province be shutdown in protest over a possible fee increase for the 2017 academic year.

The NMMU said that "it recognises that much time has been lost and academic activities, especially, tests and assignments have been impacted. Management further wants to emphasise that there are consequences for those who do not follow NMMU procedures and policies".

The following resolutions have been agreed to:

  • Lectures and related activities will resume tomorrow (25 August).
  • Any tests that should have been written yesterday (23 August) or today (24 August) will be rescheduled in consultation with your lecturers until the next term.
  • Those who are scheduled to write tests tomorrow (25 August) or Friday (26 August), may go ahead and write the test or choose to write on an alternative date next term.
  • Similarly, those who were scheduled to hand in assignments between 23 and 26 August may do so from now until the first day of the new term (5 September).

"We expect that our campuses will return to normalcy following constructive engagement with various student groupings today [Thursday].

"Planning is underway to ensure that the time lost over the last two days is recovered before the end of the year," the NMMU said.

On Wednesday, Dr Sibongile Muthwa, who is the  Acting Vice Chancellor, while NMMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Derrick Swartz jets off to Peru on a fundraising camapign, said that the NMMU supports calls for free education for poor and academically deserving students.

"The University is scheduled to present its submission to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training at its sitting in East London on 1 and 2 September. 

"Some of our key recommendations to the Commission include: assisting the 'missing middle', who consist of students who are not poor enough to qualify for NSFAS, but who cannot finance their own tuition; improving the recovery of NSFAS loans to ensure that the funds grow adequately to fund academically deserving, financially needy students; and significantly enhancing efficiencies in the higher education system by improving student success and throughput rates," she said.  

"It must be noted that the Commission is expected to submit its report to the President by March 2017 and the outcome of its findings will only take effect from 2018 onwards."

Meanwhile, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, told Parliament on Wednesday that the Council of Higher Education (CHE) had indicated that if the 0% fee increases continued, about 19 universities will become dysfunctional in 2018, and that if increases were to be based on CPI, about 10 universities will be rendered dysfunctional.

As the impasse continued, the NMMU on Wednesday also said that it was aware of a voice note that is doing rounds threatening students, who might want to access its campuses.

On Tuesday, efforts by the DA Students Organisation (DASO) led NMMU Student Representative Council (SRC) to call off the shutdown, which the SRC said would affect students who were due to write tests, failed dismally.