National News

One hundred free scholarships for SA students


The Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Programme is offering 100 free scholarships to South African students. This programme was signed on 8 December 2016 and is based on a bilateral educational co-operation agreement signed between the Hungarian and South African Governments. The applicant is to be nominated by a Sending Partner. In the academic year 2017/2018 almost 4 000 students can begin studying, with an option of a total of 410 study programmes available in English or in Hungarian, in the framework of the Stipendium Hungaricum Programme.

Read more: One hundred free scholarships for SA students

UP students arrested as protests continue


Three UP students have been arrested over the last two weeks in connection to this year’s protests.

On 11 October, following the continuation of protest action at UP’s Prinshof campus, EFFSC-UP chairperson and Fees Must Fall representative Amla Monageng was arrested outside the Prinshof campus. Monageng was arrested by Brooklyn SAPS and taken to the Moot police station in Gezina. The following day, Monageng appeared in the Pretoria Magistrates Court where his bail hearing was postponed to 19 October and remained in police custody till then.

Monageng was initially charged with public violence and malicious destruction of property. The UP Fees Must Fall Facebook page claimed that Monageng was “unlawfully arrested” as he was taken into police custody “while he was innocently standing on the pavement outside Prinshof”.

Read more: UP students arrested as protests continue

Final-year and postgraduate students under pressure

Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande announced that universities may determine their own fee increases with a cap of 8% on 19 September, after which protests began at universities across the country with students calling for free quality decolonised education. Perdeby asked lecturers, final year, and postgraduate students at UP whether or not the protests have influenced them and if so, how.

Dr Natalie Haussmann from the Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology said that most of the final-year students in her class are dedicated to completing their degrees this year: “They’re just not always sure how to do this”, she says. According to Dr Haussmann, the university is working on putting back-up plans in place, such as online assistance and reworking the study material so that it is more accessible from home or the local internet café. The university has also negotiated free access to their web services from over 780 Wi-Fi hotspots in and around Pretoria. Dr Haussman said that students would be willing to follow reasonable back-up plans, should the disruptions continue. She also said she’s confident that despite the disruptions, this year’s graduates would be on the same level as graduates from previous years and that they will be competent to be taken into the work force next year.

Read more: Final-year and postgraduate students under pressure

Damage to research may outweigh property damage at SA varsities


On 27 September, Universities South Africa (USA) shared its concern about the damage to academic programmes and infrastructure by student protesters.

These repercussions are becoming increasingly clear and are supported by Prof. Brenda Wingfield, a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and Professor of Genetics at the University of Pretoria. Prof. Wingfield published an article on Conversation Africa, titled “South Africa’s research output will be the biggest victim of student protests”. In her article, she explained that the Department of Education and Training’s estimated figure of R600 million in damages caused by student protests “is merely the tip of the iceberg”.

Read more: Damage to research may outweigh property damage at SA varsities

Free higher education debate continues


In October 2015 the Fees Must Fall student movement engaged in protest action at universities across South Africa, putting forward a number of demands. The protest started at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) when students began protesting against a 10.5% increase in university tuition fees.

The movement spread to other universities as students demanded a 0% increase in fees and free education, and raised other issues such as the outsourcing of workers at universities. At UP students peacefully protested on UP’s Hatfield campus. The protests came to an end after students from UP, Wits, Tshwane University of Technology, and the University of Johannesburg marched to the Union Buildings on 23 October 2015, where President Jacob Zuma was expected to address students. While the President ultimately did not address the students protesting at the Union Buildings, he addressed the nation on national television and announced that there would be a 0% increase in university tuition fees for 2016.

Read more: Free higher education debate continues

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