UWC hit by student protest days before classes end

Student accommodation protests at the University of the Western Cape's (UWC) main campus in Bellville have caused traffic congestion around Robert Sobukwe Road and Symphony Way.

On Thursday morning, protesters blocked the entrance to the campus, which meant some students could not make it to campus, university spokesperson Gasant Abarder told News24.

In a statement, the university revealed the reason for the protest was down to their private residence, South Point, which is situated in Belhar, informing them that they might not be accommodated there because the company was in the process of concluding an agreement with another institution that would result in little or no bed spaces for our students.

"We have been in discussions with South Point and, it is important to state, that we have presented our own agreement for review and discussion. We have done this because we would like to maintain the number of bed spaces we have at the moment," the statement read.

City of Cape Town traffic spokesperson Richard Coleman acknowledged the heavy congestion around the area, adding that "gates [at UWC] have been closed by security on campus". 

UWC's statement continued: "It is also important to state that the university has, since April 2019, been engaging bulk private accommodation providers in preparation for the 2020 academic year. These discussions are still ongoing and the plan is to ensure that there are additional bed spaces that are available to funded students, as landlords insist that they only accept fully-funded students. 

"South Point, after consultations with UWC representatives, confirmed that the discussions are ongoing and feedback will be provided to UWC next week."

"The UWC executive management will be discussing this matter in detail next week and take a resolution on the way forward. The resolution will consider both short- and mid-term solutions, including plans supported by the Department of Higher Education and Training to build a new student residence with a capacity of 2 700 beds." 

Deans and heads of departments are looking into the few assignments and tests still to be done, and lecturers will communicate alternative arrangements to students as soon as possible, the university said.

Next Tuesday is the last day of lectures. 

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