Marred DUT disrupted by renovations

2010-07-27 00:00

THE first part of this year has been marred by a number of student protests at the Durban University of Technology (DUT).

As if these disruptions, in addition to the extended holidays to accommodate the Fifa World Cup were not enough, students based at DUT’s City Campus will only resume lectures in September.

Students in the Faculty of Art and Design, which includes journalism, graphic design, jewellery design, fine art, interior design and video technology, will have spent an additional four months at home without lectures as a result of campus renovations.

While some students admitted to having been warned about the renovations last year, they said the effects have nonetheless been negative.

A frustrated Siyabonga Matatila, a second-year graphic design student, said he was given four projects to do at home during the break.

However, without the guidance of his lecturer, he has found it extremely difficult.

“The problem is that many of us don’t have Internet and computer access as easily as we would at our campus. I think this will surely affect the pass rate as performance will be very poor,” he added.

According to the institution, the renovation project was specifically scheduled for May to August as there is less rain during these months in comparison with the latter part of the year.

It claims that the academic programme was specifically designed to coincide with the break, which took the World Cup into consideration.

The university further told The Witness that the deputy vice chancellor had met with the faculty heads, students and members of the student representative council last year, and consensus had been reached regarding the closure.

However, a first-year graphic design student, who asked not to be named, said not being in the loop has left first-year students at a disadvantage.

“I think this was the worst initiation into university anyone could ever ask for. There were no proper guidelines. We are basically left to ourselves. Students were not given enough support to pass the year. I really don’t think this was well planned.”

The student admitted that he has been able to keep up with courses as he started managing his workload from the beginning.

“My concern is that many of my classmates haven’t been working from the beginning. Some view this as a holiday and are doing work not related to our field.”

The student is trying to initiate a process where students can consult with lecturers to gauge whether they are understanding briefs correctly. How­ever, he has not been successful since their head of department is said to be overseas.

Some students have voiced intentions of trying to recover fees paid for the four-month period that they have not been at university. One student has estimated that fees for this period amount to R4 500.

Acting vice chancellor Professor Nqabomzi Gawe maintains that students were allowed to borrow an unlimited amount of books and had access to other libraries and Internet laboratories. She also claims that lecturers have maintained communication with students.

But, while it was stated by the university that support venues have been made available throughout this project for lecturers to meet with students, students say this has not happened.

Sihle Mthembu, a second-year journalism student, believes the closure of the campus is good because it has given students an opportunity to work in their fields. These sentiments were supported by part-time lecturer at the department of journalism, Aldrin Naidu.

He believes students have not been disadvantaged by missing out on lecture time, as the gap has provided an ideal opportunity to venture into the real world.


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