Student Protests Spread As Academic Year Barely Begins

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Ongoing student protests have spread from institutions in the Western Cape, and have plagued other places of tertiary education across the country. The protests are similarly related to the financial/academic exclusions implemented by universities. 


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While the academic year commenced at several higher education institutions from 13 February 2023, two universities based in the Western Cape have encountered protests.

Student Representative Councils (SRCs) are negotiating and working to resolve the current issues they're experiencing with their respective universities. 

Student protests taking place at the University of Cape Town (UCT) have made national headlines, as students demand that academic exclusions as a result of financial blocks be dropped by the institution.

UCT's SRC called for a campus-wide shutdown to protest the financial exclusion/fee block of students, who are unable to register for the academic year or receive their results due outstanding fees, as well as issues relating to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). 

As a result, classes were cancelled on the first day

UCT is not the only institution currently affected by protests. The University of the Western Cape (UWC) is also in the same boat, having its academic proceedings paused due to frustrated students making their voices heard. 

Beginning on the same day as the protests at UCT, similar concerns were raised by UWC's SRCs and student unions. Disruptions also occurred on Tuesday, 14 February, but was not affecting classes. 

The increase of tuition fees for 2023 in tertiary institutions across the country has been in talks for a while now, much to the disapproval of student councils, parents and the students themselves.

Many public universities proposed a tuition increase of between 5% and 7%, which they say will allow institutions to cover the cost of inflation. However, this increase will be strenuous on families and households, as university education will not become affordable for many. 

However, student protests are not specific to institutions located in the Western Cape; North West University (NWU) in Mahikeng has also been caught up in protests of a similar nature.

At NWU, students at the institution's Mahikeng campus have been caught in the middle of a dispute between taxi drivers and landlords; the dispute has erupted into protest action. 

The university protest was initially part of a statewide strike by students who demanded an end to financial exclusion at South Africa's higher education institutions, but has developed into something more. 

The Mahikeng Taxi Association, the Mmabatho, Montshiwa, and Landlords Association allege that they have been left out of the plans for providing student housing and transportation.

Earlier this year the Higher Education Department announced that NSFAS-funded students would be provided with accredited student accommodation as well as transport services to commute to and from campus.

The issue of involvement in these arrangements has been ongoing since 2019 according to an ANC Youth League Student Command member, who says the taxi drivers are being unreasonable.

Most classes have been moved online, as the protests are working to be resolved. 

 

Suggested Article:

uct buildilgn of suspending fee blocks

As the 2022 academic year began, students from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) operations were halted as students protested financial exclusions

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