Durban University of Technology classes called off as students protest over funding
Lectures at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) have been called off for the rest of the week after protests over student funding.
This decision — communicated via a statement to students and staff — follows a meeting between the university’s executive management and the student representative council (SRC) on Tuesday.
The suspension of lectures came after students‚ led by the SRC‚ marched to the vice-chancellor’s chambers at the institution’s Steve Biko campus to hand over a memorandum with a list of grievances and demands.
At the top of the list was the issue of student funding. Many National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) students have complained about getting access to approved funding and difficulties registering for the second semester‚ which started last week.
In the memorandum‚ written by the SRC‚ students demand that DUT addresses major recurring NSFAS issues.
"We are very devastated as the SRC with the fact that up to this point of the year students are still entrenched with various challenges that we have been raising as the SRC timeously‚ without management coming up with sound results‚" the memorandum states.
In a communique released to students‚ the university said it had agreed to suspend lectures following a meeting with the SRC in consideration of "challenges related to registration and NSFAS".
The university’s admin and financial aid services will‚ however‚ remain open to accommodate students who are still registering.
One NSFAS-funded student‚ Welile Mbeje‚ was worried that she would not be able to complete the first year of her IT course if the issues were not resolved.
"I have a strong hope that in the next three days funding issues with NSFAS will be resolved so that I may be able to register for the next semester. If they aren’t‚ it will mean I will not be able to return for the second semester‚ so all I can do is remain hopeful‚" she said.
But non-NSFAS students are frustrated about missing classes.
"I won’t lie‚ it is very frustrating to have to miss three whole days of lectures but at the same time I understand why it is necessary for classes to be suspended‚" said office management technology student Weziwe Mgandela.
Classes are set to resume on July 31.