Education

TUT campuses to reopen after protests

Sapa

The protest-hit Tshwane University of Technology will reopen its campuses this week, following student protests over a shortfall of NSFAS money.

Last week, TUT campuses were shut down after violent protests. (Gallo)

The protest-hit Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) will reopen its campuses this week, the institution said on Monday.

Classes are expected to resume on Wednesday after they were suspended last week following student protests, spokesperson Willa de Ruyter said.

Students were protesting against a shortfall of money from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). "The academic programme is TUT's core business and the need to ensure an uninterrupted academic year has informed the decision to reopen all campuses without any undue delay," said De Ruyter.

When the university suspended classes last Thursday, it evicted students from the institution's residences. It also obtained a court order to stop protests at its campuses.

The Socialist Youth Movement (SYM) and the institution's Student Representative Council on Saturday won an interdict at the high court in Pretoria against the unlawful eviction of students. The university was ordered to pay the costs of the court application.

"The university's priority has all along been to ensure the safety of students, staff and TUT property as well as ensuring that returning students will be guaranteed an uninterrupted academic year," said De Ruyter.

"Students will be allowed to start moving back into residences from today, [Monday] from 4pm," she said.

Tighter security
Security had been tightened at all campuses and the registration period was extended. "In order to ensure no students are disadvantaged by the recent events unfolding at the university, students will be allowed to register without penalties until February 14.

"Further to this, TUT's online registration system is also accessible 24 hours a day."

Students would be handed a copy of the court interdict, and action would be taken against anyone who transgressed against the interdict. Student leaders said they were not opposed to activities resuming at the institution, but urged management to ensure grievances were attended to.

"As leadership, we don't have a problem with that but the demands of the students must be met. If they are not met, we will not agree to any form of learning," said Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania spokesperson Vusi Mahlangu.

Following a meeting between the SRC and management last week, De Ruyter said it was agreed that:

  • All financial blocks on students be removed to enable students to register and not be disadvantaged by lack of money;
  • The university transferred R10-million from its budget to help academically deserving and financially needy students;
  • The university consulted with NSFAS and the department of higher education and training to get more money. A response was awaited; and
  • Students who qualified for NSFAS funding in 2013 but had failed to sign their contracts had been contacted and advised to do so. – Sapa

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