Cape Town - The universities of Cape Town, Pretoria, and Stellenbosch will start their academic year without a new SRC following voting irregularities and disruptions on campuses in 2016.All three universities decided to extend the term of their previous Student Representative Councils until new ones had been democratically elected.The academic year is set to start in February.University of Cape Town spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the situation was unprecedented.READ: Negotiations continuing between Wits SRC, government and managementThe university's election commission decided to cancel the SRC elections, which were scheduled for late 2016, as the campus climate had not been conducive to running a free and fair election.The University of Pretoria cancelled its SRC elections in September following protests about proposed fee increases.The election could not be concluded and was ruled to be not free and fair, spokesperson Rikus Delport said.Stellenbosch University’s SRC election was postponed due to a dispute about election rules. The election convener subsequently decided to expel the candidates, spokesperson Martin Viljoen said.The dispute went to the Western Cape High Court, which ruled that the institution should exhaust all internal avenues, Viljoen said.The South African Higher Education Act determines that an SRC should be established within each university to represent students.Higher education department spokesperson Madikwe Mabotha said he was unable to provide the exact number of the universities affected."The Department is aware that some universities may have to start with the new academic year without duly constituted SRC structures. This is primarily due to the fact that some of these universities, owing to campus instabilities last year, could not hold their SRC elections as per norm."This situation could indeed affect a few institutions mostly those that found themselves at the epicenter of 2016 student unrests," he said.The South African Union of Students did not respond to a request for comment.