National university shutdown ‘unfortunate’

The Higher Education Department said there was no need for the National Union of South African Students’ to declare a national shutdown at universities because the minister already indicated his willingness to work with them.

FILE: Police face off against protesting students on the south lawn of the Union Buildings in Pretoria during the Fees Must Fall march on 23 October 2015. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The Higher Education Department on Monday said the National Union of South African Students’ (NUSAS) national shutdown campaign at universities was unfortunate.

The union said it launched the campaign after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande failed to meet demands he made over a week ago, which include free registration for all postgraduate students and increased enrolment quotas at universities.

However, the department said there was no need to disrupt the 2020 academic year because the minister had already responded.

Spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said: “On the response given by the minister, we’re not aware what they’re unhappy about at the moment. It will be prudent that they engage with us.”

Mnisi said the ministry had done its best to accommodate the union.

However, the union’s Lwandile Mtsolo said they were not happy with the response.

Mtsolo said they expected more institutions to join their action as they geared up for the second day of the shutdown on Tuesday.