Johannesburg – A group of 17 University of Johannesburg students who were suspended after they allegedly set an auditorium on fire can continue with their studies if they apply to do so, the institution said on Wednesday.The students were told in their suspension letters that they could do so, spokesperson Herman Esterhuizen said.They would however be granted limited access to the institution. If they wanted to collect their belongings from their residences, that had to follow a similar process.Their disciplinary hearings would take place soon, he said.Last week, the students, mainly Progressive Youth Alliance members, sent a lawyers’ letter to UJ’s student affairs department, demanding that their suspensions be lifted, suspended deputy SRC president Justina Komana said.The 17 were suspended following the fire that destroyed the Sanlam auditorium on the Kingsway campus in May, soon after protests against fee increases had died down. They were booted off campus last week after UJ concluded internal investigations.Komana said their lawyers had given management until the end of business on Wednesday to respond to their demands.The SA Students’ Congress (Sasco) had threatened to shut down the campus if the suspensions were not lifted.Komana claimed their suspensions had nothing to do with the burning of the auditorium. She said the university was punishing them for refusing to hold take part in talks about free increases for next year. “We have said even in council meetings we will not engage in talks around fee increments.This is accordance with a Sasco mandate.”She said she and three other women students had been hopping from one place to another.“It’s been tough, really tough. Kicked out of our residences, not allowed to take any of our things, not allowed on UJ premises, and our student cards have been blocked. But we are surviving. We are relying on comrades, staying at different places all the time. I don’t even know where I am going to sleep tonight,” she said.Esterhuizen said they could not comment on the police's investigation into the arson. No arrests had been made yet.