Student protests shut DUT campus

2011-02-03 00:00

THE 2011 academic year has kicked off with yet another strike at the Durban University of Technology (DUT).

The university’s lecturers and staff at the Midlands campuses in Pietermaritzburg were denied entry to the premises on two consecutive days.

The students are expecting a response to their demands today after the student representative council (SRC) sat with the university’s management yesterday.

SRC president Mfanafuthi Ngcobo said many of the issues are more or less the same as those raised when students shut down operations on the Durban campuses last week.

What is unique to the Midlands campuses, however, is the continued calls for the sacking of the executive director, Reggie Ngcobo, who has been accused of mismanagement and incompetence.

While Ngcobo said the university has made arrangements to secure a loan so that B tech students can complete their studies, no arrangements have been made for the Pietermartizburg students.

He said the Ministry of Higher Education has decided not to fund B tech students this year.

The students also allege that students reading for a Bachelor of Education have been excluded.

Ngcobo said that according to rules set by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), for students to receive four-year funding for their studies they must pass half of their subjects.

However, the students claim the institution is preventing students who failed only one subject last year from continuing with their studies.

Ngcobo said that after negotiations with DUT management to address issues raised during the protest in Durban last week, R25 million was made available to assist first-year students. However, the agreement does not cover students based in Pietermaritzburg.

Besides the locked gates, there was little evidence of a riot when The Witness visited the university on Monday.

It is understood that yesterday’s demonstrations remained peaceful.

Midlands SRC project manager Thokozani Nene told The Witness that it is not right that the government can build stadiums but cannot make education a priority.

He added that mass action is the only way for students to make their case.

SRC secretary-general for the Midlands, Mthobeli Siphamla, said a majority of students come from impoverished backgrounds and cannot even buy their own meals, let alone pay the fees.

When approached for comment, the university undertook to comment today on the decisions.

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