30 June 2023 - NW2090
Zondo, Mr S S to ask the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation
What are the details of the plans that his department has in place to prevent and address the common and recurring problems students are faced with that result in student protests being a yearly occurrence, which has recently prompted his strong condemnation due to concomitant incidents of violent disruptions, arson, vandalism and intimidation such as those that occurred during student protests at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the University of the Western Cape?
The Department of Higher Education and Training always engages with university management teams, Student representative Councils (SRC), South African Union of Students (SAUS) and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to resolve genuine student concerns raised with me and the Department. Some of these discussions’ pre-date the registration period as challenges is experienced during registration period. The Minister holds meetings with Vice-Chancellor (through USAf), Students (SRCs through SAUS) and NSFAS to ensure that universities are ready to commence the following academic year and any challenge foreseen is resolved.
The issues that become the subject of university protest are both sectorial and institutional. Where a national intervention is required, the Department attends to the matters. It should be noted that some of the issues raised at a national level require medium- and long-term planning. These are being addressed in some way or another, but many may take time to address especially those that have significant financial implications, such as student accommodation shortages, funding for postgraduates and missing middle students. All management teams of all universities engage regularly with their Student Representative Councils (SRCs) on matters that are specific to the institutions.
The Department has been engaging and providing guidance and support to all universities that experienced protests including the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the University of the Western Cape. It also continues to work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that when protests become violent there are no lives lost and university property is protected.