TUT students won’t take part in national shutdown

Several institutions across the country will remain closed on Monday as students take their demands to the streets.

FILE: The Tshwane University of Technology. Picture: Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - The Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) said on Sunday while it supported the call for free education and the scrapping of historical debt, it wouldn’t be taking part in the national shutdown.

Several institutions across the country will remain closed on Monday as students take their demands to the streets.

TUT said it would not be taking part as the university's 2020 academic year was not yet finalised.

"It will be unfair for the ISRC to call for the university to shutdown whilst students want to exit the university as graduates to participate in the mainstream economy and the labour market, as well as to apply for potential bursaries," the statement read.

Wits University has announced that lectures will resume online while the University of KwaZulu-Natal has delayed the resumption of the academic year.

Several police and metro police cars are parked outside the University of Johannesburg campus in Auckland Park, but there are no students there yet.

READ: Wits: Lectures to resume online today despite planned national shutdown

Earlier, a small group gathered there, calling on others to join their protest.

It also appears to be a slow start to the higher education national shutdown at Wits University - the main gates remain open, with only a few cars driving into the campus.

University management has called for calm while it prepares to give feedback to the SRC on Monday afternoon.

READ: Tertiary institutions across SA brace for planned national shutdown today

At the same time, Universities South Africa said national student historical debt was sitting at over R10 billion and that this amount couldn’t simply be written off.

Universities South Africa CEO Ahmed Bawa said universities still had to balance their books at the end of the year.

“There’s a subsidy cut coming this year and there was a subsidy cut last year. There's [a lot of] funding that’s been taken off from the research funds and so there’s enormous financial pressure on universities.”

WATCH: There was overreach by the police - Ramaphosa on Wits student protest

DELAYS

Higher Education Deputy Minister Buti Manamela has appealed to protesting students not to cause any further delays to the academic year, which was already running behind due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Negotiations between officials from the Department of Higher Education and student leaders deadlocked over the weekend.

Manamela said while government was still open to talks with students, it couldn’t write off historic debt.

“Unfortunately, we cannot waiver the debt that students owe to universities because they need these resources for them to be able to operate fully.”

He said government had been doing all it could to assist poor students through NSFAS.

“More than 1.5 million students at universities, and even more at TVET colleges, have access to education through our bursary scheme – the NSFAS.”

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