Denise Williams
1 minute read
19 Oct 2016
6:45 am

MPs on drive to save academic year

Denise Williams

The committees plan to meet with student leaders, regulatory and statutory bodies and parents during their week-long visit to Gauteng.

Wits students continue to gather support on the steps outside the Great Hall on September 21. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Members of parliament’s higher education committees have descended on Gauteng. They are on a mission to get to the bottom of the #FeesMustFall campaign, the ongoing student uprisings and violence at universities.

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The portfolio committee and select committee on higher education yesterday said they would meet with student leaders, regulatory and statutory bodies and parents during their week-long visit. This was in an attempt to save the academic year. Professor Ahmed Bawa of Universities South Africa reportedly said the cost of the protests continued to rise.

He said a plan to save the academic year should be tailored to suit the circumstances at each university, as some institutions had not been affected significantly, such as the University of Stellenbosch and the Walter Sisulu University in the Eastern Cape.

The committees were concerned about police’s ability to control students, but expressed their appreciation for the role parent- and faith-based organisations played in achieving stability.

“More universities are functioning, but some are experiencing severe and different challenges,” said co-chairpersons Connie September and Lungelwa Zwane.

“Normalising relationships between vice-chancellors and students is crucial. Society must ensure the trust deficit does not become a permanent feature at university campuses.”

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Asked if there was still hope for 2016, September said: “This is precisely the reason the committee is in Pretoria. This year should be saved to make sure that students’ efforts do not go to waste.”