UCT suspends all operations over ‘threat to safety of staff and students’

19 October 2015 - 13:30 By RDM News Wire

Protesting students blocking various access roads to the University of Cape Town (UCT) has resulted in “all lectures‚ academic and other operations” being suspended for Monday. A UCT statement said staff and students had been prevented “from getting to their classes and work spaces”‚ and the “this situation presents a threat to the safety of staff and students”.“The decision serves to prevent an escalation and to allow us to do the work to bring the university back to safety and normal operation‚” the statement said.“The actions of the protesters are de facto preventing the business of the institution to continue. Their actions prevent others from exercising their right to come and learn. This can never be acceptable and is unlawful.”UCT had on Sunday tried to pre-empt violent protests over fees on Tuesday by issuing a statement appealing to students “to bring their views over with intellectual rigour‚ debate and creativity‚ but to refrain from threatening‚ violent or unlawful behaviour”.UCT’s acting vice-chancellor Professor Francis Petersen said the “recent student demonstrations nationwide are of concern to us all”‚ and that “most times the protest actions are within the parameters of the law as protestors exercise their constitutional right to freedom of expression‚ whilst respecting the rights of others”.But‚ Petersen also noted that “at some campuses however‚ we have seen unacceptable and illegal behaviour on the part of individuals or groups that have interfered with university business and‚ in some cases‚ have disrupted classes or access and have caused the institutions to close for a period of time”.The University of the Witwatersrand closed for three days last week when students blockaded entrances to the campus; while Monday say Rhodes University closed when students there did the same.“Such actions infringe on the rights of others who wish to continue with their work‚” Petersen said.“While the University of Cape Town will always protect anyone’s right to lawful protest‚ we also value and protect the rights of those who do not participate or who hold different views.“As students and staff of this institution‚ the power to change the institution and broader society rests with us. In fact‚ it is our responsibility. We should give effect to this in a lawful manner.”Petersen said UCT ensured that “our fees are never an obstacle to poorer students…through allocating about 12% (R125 million) of all the fees we raise to topping up the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) allocation”.(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));#EDUCATIONMUSTBEFREEFORALL #WitsFeesMustFall #ThenxBathong Posted by Thenx on Thursday, October 15, 2015“As is well known‚ the NSFAS allocation falls far short of the need – and results at other universities in thousands of students being turned away‚ or being excluded financially because they cannot pay their fees.“UCT has largely solved that problem through cross-subsidising poorer students from the fees paid by wealthier students. We are fortunate to attract a majority of students who can afford the fees‚ and so the government subsidy that would have been allocated to them is instead allocated to the financial aid that supports poorer students.”He also said that “because of the wide financial assistance provided by UCT to poor students‚ the increase in fees has almost no impact on the fees that poorer students must themselves pay‚ since we increase the financial aid to cover the full fee increase”.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day, Financial Mail or Rand Daily Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.