CPUT, Fees Must Fall in landmark agreement over withheld results

Cape Town - Tens of thousands of graduates with historic debt have been encouraged to collect their withheld results and certificates after a landmark agreement between the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and the Fees Must Fall movement.

During ongoing negotiations, consensus was reached that those with outstanding fees would be given their paperwork to allow them to seek employment and put them in a better position to settle their debt.

CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said a number of previous students had been taking advantage of the opportunity, which is open to all students who had studied at the institution since its inception.

"This decision was a direct result of negotiations between students and management. The dialogue is continuing amicably," she said.

Kansley explained that this did not mean that the debt was written off.

"Our debt collectors will still be contacting those who owe fees, but the affected students will have their proof of qualification to seek employment while they pay the outstanding money."

'Pro-student dialogue'

Past students on Monday started making their way to the various CPUT campuses to collect their results and certificates.

Previously, results were withheld, but the indebted students were allowed to graduate. Instead of their certificates, they were handed a letter listing the amount still due.

Past students have been advised to visit their respective campuses' assessment and graduation centres and to start the process of obtaining their documents by filling in a form.

Kansley said negotiations with students were continuing.

"This is a pro-student dialogue. The student leaders appreciate that there are limitations, but it has been a learning curve for all those involved."

Meanwhile, exams have been continuing without incident, barring an arson attempt at the start of assessments last Monday.

Private security withdrawn

Above average attendance for the assessments was reported, while the remaining students have deferred their exams until January.

Three weeks ago, exams were postponed by a week as mediation between the institution's management and protesting students continued.

At the time, university management, Fees Must Fall activists, the student representative council, and unions said in a joint statement that they had all agreed to try and ensure that no disruptions took place at campus examination venues.

Private security was withdrawn from the institution two weeks ago following negotiations.

Last month, CPUT was also granted an urgent interdict by the Western Cape High Court, restraining protesting students from obstructing campus activity, including exams.

The institution gave up on face-to-face classes for the rest of the year in October, saying it had "reached the point of no return to save the 2016 academic year".

Protests at CPUT included daily marches, an incident of faeces-flinging and the setting alight of cars and buildings.

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