Students defy order to relocate

2009-01-29 00:00

Students reading for postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal have defied an order to relocate to the Edgewood campus in Pinetown after a standoff between them and UKZN management.

The Dean of Education, Prof Michael Samuel, announced yesterday that the 37 students who registered for PGCE studies on the Pietermaritzburg campus would have to move to Edgewood campus or deregister. The students rejected the proposal and demanded that management consider alternatives.

David Look, one of the students, said the notice comes too late for students to deregister because applications have closed at other institutions and some students stand to lose their bursaries. "I turned down a coaching job overseas because I wanted to study, and now we are being thrown out in the cold."

Samuel said that due to economic challenges it was not financially viable to provide PGCE studies in Pietermaritzburg.

However, the students said they were not consulted about the move and would have made alternative plans if they had been. In a petition they argue that management should have been "in a position to assess the viability of this programme in December 2008 due to the fact that applications closed on November 14, 2008", said a student.

"We have already been accepted and have registered at the PMB campus [and] have made arrangements to live, study and work in PMB, and these arrangements cannot be altered at such short notice."

Sithobile Mpangase (22) said she has already moved into the Pietermaritzburg campus residence. Another student, Henry Menchero, said he cannot afford to travel to Edgewood every day. "I teach Spanish part time at the PMB campus and everyone has got things to do here, either family or work."

Meanwhile, the management is talking with the students. "We are attempting to find solutions and we are exploring alternatives such as making changes in terms of delivery for specialised modules," said Samuel.

Student Representative Council president Mlungisi Manana said, "We understand the problems, but management waited until the eleventh hour to make this announcement.

"However - we are satisfied with how management is handling the situation."

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