Students at the University of Technology are today expected to return to lectures, following three weeks of disruptions.
The academic programme at all five Durban University of Technology (DUT) campuses is expected to resume on Monday, after management and the student representative council (SRC) reached common ground following protests.
Management suspended classes at DUT earlier this month after clashes between protesters and private security led to the death of 21-year-old student Mlungisi Madonsela at one of the campuses.
DUT Vice chancellor, Thandwa Mthembu says management and students leaders have finally reached an agreement. He says he is confident the academic programme will resume without a hitch.
The institution has also secured a court barring students and organisations from protesting and damaging property on campus.
According to News24, in a joint statement by university management and SRC, it is stated that classes at all DUT campuses will resume next week, provided that students who are currently appealing the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), and who are staying in the Baltimore residence, are moved until the outcome of their appeal.
According to the statement, there are 232 students awaiting a decision on NSFAS funding.
News24 also reported that “Management agreed to this condition, subject to Student Housing Department confirming that the spaces still exist,” the joint statement read.
Additionally, students whose appeals are unsuccessful will be given 48 hours to vacate the residences.
“Further, the meeting agreed that students who are waiting for their appeal decisions should be allowed to attend classes until their cases are finalised or on 15 March 2019 – whichever comes first.”
Universities with rising Covid-19 cases will be shut down
Higher Education Science and Innovation Minister Dr Blade Nzimande revealed that the rising Covid-19 cases within universities are a cause for concern as this will lead the department to shut down these universities.
During a briefing on the reopening of universities, the Minister mentioned that there were 3888 confirmed positive cases. The department’s duty will be to closely monitor universities to ensure that both students and staff are safe.
Minister Nzimande also mentioned that the department is expecting to receive statics this week which will determine the action the department should take in terms of allowing students and staff access to universities.
“In universities, there were positive cases that were reported of about 3 888 with 1 499 staff and 1 588 students. The total number of deaths by 13 November was 58 – 48 staff, 10 students. As I’m saying, we will be receiving updated reports on infections and fatalities on the 20th of this month and we want to make it clear that if we identify that there is a rapid increase in particular institutions or campuses of infections, we will close those institutions, no doubt about that. ”
The ups and downs of the 2021 academic year
Universities are preparing to begin the 2021 academic year. This has however been met with challenges as some universities had to lower their first-year intake.
The University of South Africa (UNISA) lowered its first-year intake by 20 000 to ensure sustainability. Another reason was due to the inability of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme ( NSFAS) to meet the high demands.
This decision has received backlash as a lot of student hopefuls won’t be receiving access to study.
The University has said that this move was necessary and it also follows an order from Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, which serves to prevent the university from experiencing a backlog when the academic year starts in March.
“From what I can gather, the minister’s question to limit Unisa’s intake is really to bring it back into its enrollment planning. What that means is that Unisa will be in a position where it is admitting 20,000 fewer students this year and that, of course, has consequences in terms of access.”, said Universities South Africa CEO Ahmed Bawa.
UKZN halts re-opening for the year 2021
As Institutions of Higher learning are preparing to re-open for the 2021 academic year, they are also looking into unpacking the implications of new COVID-19 regulations.
The University of Kwazulu-Natal postponed its re-opening on January 4 until January 18. According to the university’s spokesperson Normah Zondo, the university decided to suspend its reopening due to that, “both the district municipalities within which UKZN campuses are located have been declared Covid-19 hotspots.”
The university will revisit this decision once further directives are given by the President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande.
It was further stated that the University will continue with its academic activities online and that registration processes will take place online, commencing on the 18th of January.