Price gives up on classes

2016-10-18 06:00

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With some tense and trying times on the UCT campus in recent weeks this week may prove pivotal in getting the academic year back on track.

The latest developments come in the wake of vice-chancellor Max Price being punched after meeting with a group of protesters on Friday.

There was also an incident in which a fire destroyed a Toyota Hilux bakkie belonging to the university in the early hours of the same day.

The bakkie, which was used by students and researchers in the Geological Sciences department, was set alight just after 03:00.

UCT officials are now also investigating smoke damage to a ventilation system that serves a Geological Sciences laboratory, which houses highly sensitive equipment worth millions of rand.

Despite these incidents and ongoing uncertainty, as well as continued shifts in when lectures will restart, Price has outlined plans to get the year back on track.

In a statement yesterday he thanked staff for remaining calm and being committed to UCT.

“We view our main task right now as finding a sustainable way for UCT to open and continue its academic and other work,” he says.

“Ideally, we wish to do so without having a long-term and extensive security presence on campus.

“In addition, we wish to make urgent progress on transformation matters and the demands of many students and staff for change. In the final analysis, our ultimate job is to deliver the academic programme in an open and responsive institution.

“I believe that no solution will be sustainable without us reaching agreement with a significant proportion of the student body, and by dealing with the legitimate demands in the current mix. So efforts at engagement will continue.

“But we have to accept that, for the moment, the leaders of the protesting students do not yet accept the need to continue the academic programme without disruption. Regrettably, this leaves us in a position where a decision must be made without the agreement in place.”

He adds that the facility was reaching a “point of no return” in terms of saving the academic year.

“All undergraduate face-to-face classes are suspended. All faculties and departments will ensure that the planned curriculum for this year will be made available to students in alternative and mixed teaching modes to be determined by each faculty and department,” Price says.

“Postgraduate studies that rely on classroom teaching will also be delivered using alternative methods. Research- and project-based postgraduate work should be arranged on an individual basis with supervisors and course conveners.”

He also states that exams will be held from 7 to 25 November.

“It must be noted that in the case of the Humanities, Engineering and Health Sciences faculties, some examining might have to be concluded in a mini-semester at the beginning of next year, as contact time and laboratory work is needed to conclude that work.”

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