Nelson Mandela University protest ends – institution can reopen

Students and management reach agreement

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Photo of entrance to NMU
Activities have resumed at Nelson Mandela University. Photo: Joseph Chirume

The protests that shut down Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday have been called off. This follows an agreement reached late on Thursday between student leaders and the university management. Police brokered the meeting.

The students, led by the South African Students Congress (SASCO), had blocked all entrances to the university’s north and south campuses. This prompted the university to threaten to enforce a court interdict obtained last year. The interdict prevents students from disrupting the institution.

The protesting students claimed some students had been refused registration for the current academic year after obtaining low marks because of the late arrival of their financial aid from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). They argued that the affected students had insufficient opportunity to study because they were trying to get their funding. They also wanted the university to provide more accommodation.

A statement issued by university spokesperson Zandile Mbabela confirmed that the meeting had taken place and that an agreement was reached. A “Clearing House” has been set up to deal with individual students’ issues. The parties agreed that:

  • Academically deserving masters and doctoral students who qualified for financial concessions for their undergraduate studies will be cleared for registration.
  • The mars required to qualify for postgraduate funding has been adjusted.
  • Appeals by students who had “unfavourable outcomes relating to the loss of NSFAS funding” will be reviewed.

Any students who applied for registration through the government’s online university application system (known as CACH) who have not yet heard the outcome of their applications can request intervention from the Clearing House.

SASCO president Asemahle Gwala confirmed the agreement in a separate statement, highly critical of the university.

Tests and assignments that were affected by the disruptions will also be rescheduled.

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TOPICS:  Tertiary Education

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