Student complains about overcrowded lecture halls

2016-04-06 06:00
LEFT AND RIGHT: NMMU student, Ashleigh De Lange, posted these photos of an overcrowded lecture venue on Facebook.            Photos: Ashleigh De Lange

LEFT AND RIGHT: NMMU student, Ashleigh De Lange, posted these photos of an overcrowded lecture venue on Facebook. Photos: Ashleigh De Lange

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AN irate Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) student, Ashleigh De Lange, complained about overcrowding during lectures and asked other NMMU students to share her Facebook comment.

On March, 16, De Lange voiced her frustration about the seating problem where a large number of students often have to sit on the floor or outside lecture halls.

De Lange posted the following comment on Facebook: “I’ve been facing the issue of overcrowding at NMMU since day one. I feel it’s time to name and shame. There has been nothing done about it, and instead the university knows that students will eventually stop coming to classes when they have to stand in the hallway for each class. I’m not talking about a seating problem for one or two extra students. I’m talking 50+ students either sitting along the stairs or outside of classes in hopes to get a tiny hint of what is being said in the lecture.”

De Lange added, “This is an issue that the timetabling office is well aware of, yet nothing has, more likely won’t be done. It is now the end of Block (Term) 1. I have managed to have a seat in one specific class twice this term. Many others I’ve spoken to are in the same boat. In other classes there are NO tables or chairs. Where students have to go beg borrow and steal chairs from other classes, leaving many sitting on tables.”

“They’ve enrolled more than 15 000 new students in 2016; they cannot even seat the current students. If paying R20 000 - R50 000 per year only to have to sit in hallways or not even coming close to entering the class is what you’re after, then you’ve found a winner,” she wrote.

NMMU’s Facebook page responded to De Lange’s post and mentioned, “We are aware of the present challenges and understand your frustration. We will pass this information on to the relevant staff.”

NMMU spokesperson Debbie Derry said NMMU is aware of overcrowding in some of its venues and is working to resolve these challenges.

“The university faces such challenges annually as it tries to anticipate numbers and allocate lecture venues accordingly. This year it has been faced with the additional challenges because of the interventions to assist academically deserving but financially-disadvantaged students at NMMU. The knock-on effect has been an increase in module registrations – a 10% increase, as opposed to the usual 2% increase,” Derry said.

She added that at present, NMMU has about 2 100 modules on the timetable. This translates to around 8 000 classes that are scheduled on the timetable in terms of the curriculums of around 350 progammes.

“This aside, NMMU acknowledges that students should not have to sit on the floor of lecture halls and is working with lecturers to find creative solutions. It did, for example, open up three venues in the Science buildings ahead of time to accommodate students in overcrowded venues,” Derry said.

“Though the figures supplied by the student in the Facebook post are inaccurate (we have welcomed about 6 000 first-year students), this should not detract from the students’ very real concerns. We acknowledged the students’ post when it appeared,” she added.

“NMMU apologises for any inconvenience caused and wishes to assure its students that it is endeavouring to rectify the issue of overcrowding.” 

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