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Student groups want to intensify protests

Published Mar 17, 2021

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SOME UCT student organisations have expressed uncertainties over issues of historical debt. Members of these organisations, as part of the UCT SRC, met the institution's management last night following threats to shut down the Forest Hill main road.

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In a joint poster shared on social media UCT student representative council (SRC) members from Pasma, Sasco and Independents had called on all students to join in what was supposed to be a shutdown.

Sasco’s branch convenor, Sharon Mogale, said they wanted to intensify protests after they did not receive attention on Monday.

“We recognise the importance of the progressive concession that was granted by the university council at the weekend. However, the lifting of the fee block does not address the core issue of Fees Must Fall in UCT, it merely postpones the debate.”

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She said they believed the lifting of the fee block could mean existing historical debts would just increase.

“We need clarity about what happens when students still struggle to pay their existing debts this whole year because R30 million is not enough to assist the number of students with debts.”

The Black Academic Caucus also supported the call that the academic year starts when all students have registered.

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UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the institution's executive has had engagements with the SRC, which comprised various student organisations and independent candidates.

“The executive remains committed to engaging with the SRC on issues raised. These engagements are ongoing. We indicated that the university had about 1 655 students with historic debt, amounting to R88 million. We also indicated that council resolved that UCT will make every effort to support students in the process of servicing their debt, with R30 million made available to support criterion-based debt appeals for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. These efforts include fund-raising,” said Moholola.

Meanwhile Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has urged students who applied on time for a place at all public institutions but were not offered one to contact the Central Application Clearing House (Cach) for help.

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The Cach is a system meant to assist individuals to access university, college and skills development opportunities after unsuccessful applications before the publication of their Grade 12 results.

Nzimande explained that Cach was particularly useful for applicants or individuals who had applied for admission to a university or college in time in 2020, and met the entry requirements when their Grade 12 results were released, but had not been offered a place in their programme of choice.

The Cach service will follow four different phases, and will be available until the end of April.

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