MARKO SVICEVIC UP’s Department of Facilities Management, in collaboration with UP’s Department of Residence Affairs and Accommoda...Read more
On 18 March, the Higher Education Convention, organised by former Constitutional Court Deputy Chief and mediator at the meeting, Justice Dikgang Moseneke, took place at the Eskom Academy of Learning in Midrand. The convention was however cancelled after students who were allegedly aligned with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) refused to give Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, an opportunity to give his speech. Some students objected to the presence of Nzimande who, according to SABC News, was heckled by students upon entering the venue.
The two-day convention focused on the challenges that tertiary institutions are facing, such as the demand for free decolonised higher education. The gathering was attended by students, academic staff (including university vice-chancellors), politicians, and businesses who were anticipated to make proposals on the government's plan for the education sector.
HENRI UYS AND POOJA PUNDIT
On 2 March, the TSC and UP management met to discuss accommodation issues.
Sisana Machi, Director of Residence Affairs and Accommodation, announced resident placement problems. Machi said that almost all of UP’s residences are full, excluding the most costly residence, Hatfield Studios. She reported that these residences consist of between 62% and 68% black students. Citing reasons such as location and catering for specific programmes, Machi stated that of the residences, two consist of mainly black students. Machi concluded that the University’s residence placement policy is under review and that the updated policy will be implemented from 2018. Acting Vice-Principal, Prof. Carolina Koornhof, said that the new policy will prioritise students funded by NSFAS, first year students coming from quintile 1, 2 and 3 schools, and students relying on SASSA grants.
On 10 March, the North Gauteng High Court granted AfriForum leave to appeal the ruling made in December 2016 to set aside UP’s decision to phase out Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in 2017.
The case can only be heard once the Supreme Court of Appeal has heard a similar case between the University of the Free State against AfriForum, brought to court in collaboration with Solidarity. This case deals with the use of Afrikaans as a language of instruction at the University of the Free State and started on 17 March.
AfriForum welcomed the ruling and in a statement said, “Even though the cases of the two universities display differences, both are about the wider principles of vindicating language rights, the right to mother tongue education, as well as stipulations of the Constitution and other South African legislation in this regard.”
The TSC has appealed to student pedestrians and cyclists on Hatfield campus to be cautious when crossing roads. According to Roahan Gouws, the TSC member with the portfolio of safety and security, Hatfield campus experiences a large number of student pedestrians and cyclists travelling from lectures and venues across campus. He adds that recently there were several complaints against students using pedestrian paths and campus roads without taking the necessary precautions. Gouws says that the TSC is requesting students to be cautious and adhere to campus rules, following incidents of carelessness and a lecturer being ridden into by a cyclist. “There is a possibility that students may be run over by cars, especially [at] bends in streets,” added Gouws. In this regard, students are advised to adhere to the following guidelines to ensure their own and other people’s safety:
University of Cape Town (UCT)
On 11 and 18 March 2017, UCT’s Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) issued over 800 free Lenovo laptops to students on financial aid. According to UCT Daily News, the project is said to be an initiative of UCT’s Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (ICTS) in its Centre for Higher Education Development. The project was started in 2013 through the Vice-Chancellor’s strategic fund. UCT Daily News adds that Kira Chernotsky, UCT’s ICTS director, views “laptops [as] essential to building graduate attributes”.