Shock over squatting students at Walter Sisulu University

25 January 2018 - 11:56 By Timeslive
Walter Sisulu University of Technology.
Walter Sisulu University of Technology.
Image: Walter Sisulu University

A parliamentary oversight committee has expressed shock over the vast number of students squatting in residences at Walter Sisulu University (WSU) and King Sabata Dalindyebo TVET College in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

The portfolio committee on higher education and training is on a week-long oversight trip to the province to gauge the readiness of institutions for the 2018 academic year.

“The committee received a first-hand experience of the situation at WSU’s Nelson Mandela Drive Campus‚ where a single room accommodates three or more students due to limited student accommodation and the non-existence of access controls in the student residences‚” said a statement issued on behalf of committee chair Connie September on Thursday.

“Also‚ both WSU’s Zamukulungisa and Nelson Mandela Drive Campuses have decaying student residence‚ lecture rooms and recreational facilities – something that poses a grave challenge to student development.”

Student Representative Council members; the National Education‚ Health and Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU) and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) raised concerns about overcrowding and a lack of maintenance at residences.

WSU SRC President Siphelo Mkhuzangwe said there was a communication breakdown between university management and students. Union representatives said there was no transparency and that university management was “not accountable”.

Vice chancellor Professor Rob Midgley briefed the committee on a maintenance backlog faced by the university‚ plans to expand student accommodation and on progress on the 2018 registration process.

September said it was imperative that stakeholders engage each other and address the problems at WSU.

KSD TVET College SRC chair Mgweba Yanelisa refused to comment to the committee about squatting students at the institution. Students mentioned their dissatisfaction over having to pay R500 per month towards accommodation‚ which many families could not afford.

The committee said there was frustration around National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding which‚ according to college principal Zola Ndodana‚ was the reason for a decline in student enrolments at entry level.