Further talks aimed at finding a solution to the impasse between protesting students and management at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) are expected to be held today.
Protesting students for weeks embarked on protests demanding that their students’ representative council (SRC) leaders sit on the university’s executive council. The protesting students are also demanding a 0% tuition fee increase, as well as free education.
While the department of higher education and training is yet to make a decision on whether there will be a fee increase for 2017, the ministry promised late last week that an announcement will be made by the end of this month.
During the protest, several vehicles and university building were set alight, allegedly by protesting students, which led to the university suspending all academic activities until further notice.
Classes and operations at all campuses are scheduled to resume tomorrow after the council meeting with students representatives today.
Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, the SRC president at UKZN, Langelihle Lukhozi, said they hope today’s talks will yield positive results, which will see classes resuming tomorrow. “We are going to hand over our memorandum of demands to management during the council meeting,” Lukhozi said.
Meanwhile, management has advised staff members and students of strict access control measures which have been implemented at all campuses to ensure a safe working and learning environment.
“All staff and students should carry UKZN identification cards with them at all times. The university will also be deploying additional security personnel across all campuses,” the university said in a statement.
Elsewhere, discussions around student fees and other matters were held at a meeting between a group of students and Professor Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, on Saturday.
The university’s library on its central campus was closed for the weekend after a scuffle ensued when security staff on Friday closed the rolling door to secure the building and some students resisted. Some injuries were reported and a few students were treated for pepper-spray inhalation at campus health services.
In response to the incident on Friday, Prof De Villiers said: “No vice-chancellor wants conflict on his or her campus and it is regrettable that there has been friction. However, we are doing our utmost to resolve the situation. We support free higher education for financially needy, academically deserving students. We do this through differentiated financial support, for example bursaries on a sliding scale based on annual household income. We are absolutely committed to broadening access to the university, and at the same time to student success.”