‘Progress – but not there yet’

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By TRISTAN COOKE

Day 9 of the #NationalShutDown at Rhodes University

“There is a lot of progress in terms of our demands but not all of them have been met”.

Rhodes University SRC president Leboghang Nkambule said students remained sceptical following Vice Chancellor Sizwe Mabizela’s address to the University community on Friday 19 March. However, following an email to staff and students on Monday 22 March, she said, “We see the progress… there is work that is going in and we are indeed applying the pressure that is needed.”

Rhodes is among 18 universities across the country participating in the #NationalShutDown for free tertiary education and the scrapping of historical debt. While tensions ran high at the Durban University of Technology this week and clashes between Sasco and the EFF Student Command  saw five people stabbed, protests at the Rhodes University campus in Makhanda remained without incident.

At Rhodes, protesters no longer blockaded entrances, but instead attempted to occupy buildings.

SRC Revised Letter of Demands

A demand was tabled by the SRC to delay the start of the academic year or clear all students to register.

Students who have not registered include: those awaiting NSFAS funding confirmation, those unable to pay their IFP, ‘G20s who received unfavourable NSFAS appeals [unfairly affected by the pandemic]and international students who can’t meet MIP requirements.

The SRC also demanded that late registration fees be waived; allowances be distributed to students awaiting NSFAS appeal outcomes due to supplementary exams; and for data to be  provisioned for international students, paid from their international levy.

What the University said

In its communication to students, Rhodes University said NSFAS funding had not been paid to the University and was expected only in April. Other updates included that:

  • The university has prioritised the purchase of laptops for students in need and is awaiting NSFAS directives with regard to book allowances. All first time entering students that need laptops have had them provisioned and await registration confirmation to receive them.
  • NSFAS students without clearance have been required to provide payment plans. This has affected students who have submitted appeals and are still awaiting clearance from NSFAS. Students in temporary accommodation have had their registration resolved.
  • 227 international students have been issued with permits to return to campus. There have been issues with data purchase out of South Africa, so those who have connectivity issues are being invited back to campus.

Staff were given access to campus over the weekend to provide cleaning, hygiene and catering services as entrance blockades, in the week prior,, prevented these services.

The protest is continued at 6am on Wednesday 24 March.

READ THE UNIVERSITY’S FULL UPDATE HERE

Rhodes University update

Mabizela responds on Rhodes protests

 

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