Student unions warns universities against refusing students to register

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The union said it was meeting with representatives of the University of Pretoria on Monday‚ after 40 students who were arrested during Fees Must Fall protests in 2016 were asked to write letters and give reasons as to why they should be allowed to reregister this year.

SAUS secretary general Sthembiso Ndlovu said: “Those who do not want to toe the line‚ we’ll put them to the line. We will go to the streets definitely‚ we’ll ensure a total shutdown of the University of Pretoria.”

Ndlovu said the union was doing everything it could to assist the students. “We want to get to the bottom of it sooner rather than later because registration is about to close‚” he said.

“They didn’t even appear in the courts‚ they were released‚ and now the university is refusing them to register‚” he said.

Ndlovu said that at other institutions students were also having difficulty to register based either on their finances or being linked to student protests.

“Our position has always been clear as the union‚ that no child will be sent back home on the basis of finance. We are very clear that money should not be a blockage to access to education… they must be able to register because money should not be a gatekeeper to education‚” he said.

University of Pretoria spokesperson Rikus Delport confirmed that 40 students had received letters to explain why they should be allowed to reregister.

“According to the contract with students‚ the University is under no obligation to reregister students. We have received a number of submissions from students already. Those with satisfactory academic records will be allowed to continue with their registration. This is the majority of the 40 students who received letters‚” he said.

“Some of them are already registered. The few who have poor records will be able to follow the University’s formal academic appeals process as in the case with all underperforming students.”

Delport said the students had been charged with public violence‚ damage to property and for being in violation of a court interdict.

“As part of their contract with the University‚ students agree to observe and abide by the University’s rules and policies. The University has a responsibility to ensure the academic programme continues without disruption‚” he said.

Delport said beside the 40 students requested to write letters‚ registration was running smoothly‚ with an estimated 20‚000 learners registered by the end of Monday.

Tshwane University of Technology spokesperson Willa de Ruyter said students who have had issues with registration this year might not have filled in the gap grant funding form as requested by the university and the department.

“On our website we ask that students first fill out this form‚ and then register for the year. That’s a requirement from the department to ensure the missing middle and poor students don’t pay increases and that the university receives the money.

“It’s a complicated matter. Some of the people arrested during last year’s protests were not registered as students at TUT‚ and some of those students don’t qualify to register this year because of their poor academic performance‚” she said.

With sittings at the fees commission continuing this week‚ the Wits SRC said on Sunday it had requested the interim ministerial task team on funding “to plead with the president to sign off the guarantee universities claim they need in order to register students”.

Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said on Monday that students in the missing middle with historical debt of R10‚000 or less will have their debt automatically rolled into their fees for this year‚ while students with debt of more than R10‚000 are requested to pay at least half of the outstanding amount and then enter into a payment plan before they will be allowed to register.

“We believe that these financial concessions will enable the majority of students at Wits to register for the 2017 academic year‚” she said.

TMG Digital/The Times

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