Johannesburg - Students who were involved in violent protests in 2016 must motivate why the University of Pretoria should allow them to register for the 2017 academic year, the university said on Friday.The university confirmed to News24 that it had sent letters to some students who had criminal cases pending against them as a result of the 2016 protests at the institution."We have asked students to give reasons as to why their application for re-registration should be considered favourably and what undertakings they are willing to give to avoid similar incidents in 2017," Candice Jooste said.The letter requests that students make representations to the university after which the institution would then make a decision, based on the representations, on whether they would be allowed to register or not.She said the students were not obliged to make any incriminating statements."The university is doing this as it has a responsibility to ensure the academic programme continues without disruption and that we protect the interests of the student community, including the right to a safe place of learning," she said.READ: Zuma signs Higher Education Amendment ActStudents’ rightsStudent representative council President Henricho Barnard said he had not seen the letter and had only read it online. He declined to comment on the matter."I first need to familiarise myself with the letter then I will be able to give comment," Barnard said.Fees Must Fall movement leader at the university Naledi Chirwa told News24 that the letter was unconstitutional, and that it was a violation of students' rights."The university is going back on their word and everything they promised us. The letter is not surprising at all, the university wants us to act and we will," she said.Higher education director-general Gwebinkundla Qonde declined to comment on whether the letter was unconstitutional but said each institution had the right to take action based on its own code of conduct and codes of practice."An action is taken against anyone if the person has transgressed the code of conduct and code of practice [of that institution]. If the university has the facts, they can take such action."In the context in which they try and execute their responsibility, criminal cases are dealt with as criminal cases," Qonde said.The university was at liberty to execute its responsibilities and duties within the context of those codes over and above a legislative framework which was within the law, he added.