Minister Says Recent University Student Protests Are Being Addressed



Violent student protests throughout the country over the past few weeks have brought the education department under scrutiny over some of the policy guidelines adopted by NSFAS. 



The Higher Education sector has been making headlines over the past few weeks following a series of protests in some of the country’s public universities. The University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Cape Town and Tshwane University are the institutions that saw the most protest action.

The protest were largely triggered by the newly introduced R45 000 annual price cap on student accommodation for NSFAS-funded students, in addition to the clearing of historical student debt that has prevented some students from registering.

While addressing the matter, Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Buti Manamela stated that a working committee, which includes the DHET, University Vice Chancellors, student leadership and has been established to review the NSFAS accommodation price cap.

Following this, the committee is expected to submit a proposal to the Minister of Higher Education regarding how the issues of the price cap must be addressed concerning the institutions that have been affected, particularly those located in urban areas.

There are negotiations that are taking place between university managers and SRCs. We’re hoping that within the time they would have resolved whatever issues that need to be resolved

The Deputy Minister also pointed out that the protests were isolated incidents that were limited to a few institutions, adding that this is not a representation of instability in the entire higher education sector.

“We are aware that there were some protests at Wits, at UCT, at TUT, and I think it’s important that we do not represent this as turmoil in higher education. We have 26 universities, and now as we speak, [at] all universities there is learning and teaching that is taking place. So there’s no turmoil. What was there, was protests in these institutions”  Manamela added 

He also acknowledged that the running of the bursary scheme has not been without challenges, particularly when it comes to payment delays, which notable progress has been made in addressing according to Manamela 

Meanwhile, the student protests have since calmed down and Manamela commended the SRC leadership of the affected universities for their intervention to engage with other stakeholders. 

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Minister Blade Nzimande.

Not only has the 2023 academic year kicked off across the country, but so have student protests and demonstrations at various institutions. The Department of Higher Education says it is currently working on ways to resolve issues faced at universities. 




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