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Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
On 17 January, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) SRC launched a fundraising initiative for its needy students called #enablingDREAMS. According to their Facebook page, this campaign was catapulted by “over 1600 students at NMMU alone [who] are at risk of being excluded from higher education because the government does not want to prioritise a brighter future”. The movement seeks to raise funds to establish a food bank and a book collection programme to support students in need.
University of Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch University’s (Maties) SRC has launched a campaign dubbed “Register All” to assist its needy students after realising the financial plight that many Maties students faced through awareness raised by the #FeesMustFall campaign. “We have seen a need to assist students that come to this university from various rural areas. They are unable to pay registration fees [upfront],” James de Villiers from Maties’ SRC told Eyewitness News.
On 18 January heated protests at North- West University’s (NWU) Mafikeng campus interrupted registration for first-years. This forced the university management to seek a court interdict to prevent further disruptions on campus. According to City Press, the NWU SRC president, Benz Mabengwane, proclaimed that the court interdict would not make them “keep quiet when out of the total number of 5048 students who applied for assistance from [NSFAS], only 1746 applicants were approved”.
University of the Witwatersrand
The University of the Witwatersrand’s (Wits) SRC and management came to an agreement, on 19 January. This was after the 2015 #FeesMustFall movement which sparked protests again this year, disrupting registration on their campuses. The two parties agreed on 14 issues, which can be read on the university’s website. They include Wits’ commitment to insourcing and paying for workers’ children’s tuition at the institution. Furthermore, students who are unable to make an initial payment of fees prior to registration would be allowed to register after necessary procedures have been taken.
University of South Africa
Following lengthy demonstrations against outsourcing, the University of South Africa (Unisa) came to an agreement with protesters to begin insourcing contract workers by June 2016. According to Eyewitness News, on 22 January “the university [had] agreed in principle to increase workers’ salary and a task team has been set up to look into employment benefits.”
University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town (UCT) staff have had to renegotiate salaries due to the government’s decision not to increase university fees as a result of the #FeesMustFall protests. This, coupled with the decision to insource certain services, has resulted in financial implications on the university. Prior to these protests, UCT was set to increase tuition fees by 10.3%. According to News24, “The National Health Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said it had been asked to accept an 8% increase for its members at UCT, down from the 10% it negotiated before the protests against university fee increases in October last year.’’ However the 8% increase was rejected by the Academic Union, which represents academic staff at UCT. Smartdryck Abrahams, the Nehawu UCT branch manager, said that “negotiations are still taking place and no strikes are planned”. UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola told News24 that UCT is committed to concluding the renegotiation process as soon as possible.
Image: Shen Scott