Dear Campus Community,
Two weeks ago, we received, via-email, a memorandum of demands, purporting to be coming from #UWCFeesWillFall. This memorandum listed about 37 issues, some of which were addressed during last year’s student protest.
Again, this past Tuesday evening the same memorandum was submitted and had three additional issues that were not in the original memorandum.
I responded, in my capacity as DVC: Student Development and Support to the email and the original memorandum and requested for a meeting with the author/s of the memorandum to no avail.
Most of the concerns raised in the memorandum relate to issues that have been attended to since last year's student protest and the University has made significant progress in this regard. Periodic updates to the whole student body and the University community have been provided throughout the year by the relevant structures, for instance via the Registrar's Office, Finance, Library or my portfolio. These include, among others:
This year, no academically deserving student was denied access due to financial reasons;
More than 14 000 students were cleared by credit management and allowed to register despite having outstanding fees;
Students were allowed to graduate with outstanding fees;
The fee for the replacement of student card has been reduced from R140 to R70. Student cards are actually obtainable for free except for replacement;
Both online and paper application forms for prospective students are accepted. The University agreed last year to continue with a dual application process and to make available print application forms where needed or requested by prospective students.
Library hours were extended from 12am to 2am during the exam period;
Concerns of differently abled students are being attended to and a comprehensive plan has been agreed to with Differently Abled Student Association (DASA).The University has established an inclusive task team, consisting of the Office of the DVC: SDS, SRC and DASA, to monitor the implementation of this plan. In fact, the DVC:SDS has a meeting appointment with DASA tomorrow afternoon, where she will be presented with a report that covers areas which DASA would like to highlight, in addition to ongoing engagement.
A multi-stakeholder task team has been set up to lead a review of the policy on student safety and security with regards to sexual violence. Engagement and dialogue have been initiated to ensure that this is an inclusive and consultative process.
In addition, there are a few issues contained in the memorandum that are systemic, long-term and some are beyond the reach of the university, and we have raised these with the relevant government authorities. These include the issue of free higher education, historic student debt, insourcing and student accommodation.
The University has made a submission to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education & Training and expressed its support for free higher education for the poor. The issue of student accommodation is receiving urgent attention and an update to the University was issued recently in this regard.
Again, in the spirit of dialogue and genuine engagement, I have indicated on behalf of the institution our readiness for a constructive engagement on the list of issues submitted in the memorandum. We have invited the authors of the memorandum to send a delegation of at least four representatives, and an equal number of the SRC and the CHC representatives will be invited for a meeting on Friday 30th September by 1pm.
Prof Pamela Dube
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Development and Support