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Students protest over proposed sale of Monash South Africa

21 September 2018 - 07:14 By Nico Gous
“...students should have a say in what goes on in their school,” says the school's SRC. File photo.
“...students should have a say in what goes on in their school,” says the school's SRC. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/iStockphoto

About 80 students from Monash South Africa (MSA) peacefully protested the proposed sale of the private university to education conglomerate Advtech outside their campus in Johannesburg on Thursday.

They handed over the online petition of the MSA Student Representative Council (SRC)‚ which had 2‚736 signatories‚ to MSA president Alwyn Louw.

They are demanding:

• The new owners keep the naming rights and remain affiliated with Monash University‚ saying changing the name “will affect adversely the employability and perception with which the alumni are viewed in the job market”;
• Monash University Australia keep control and oversight of all academic material and qualifications currently accredited by Monash University;
• Formal‚ written and legally binding communication by Monash University confirming the sale will not affect the academic integrity‚ quality and accreditation of current Monash students; and
• All MSA staff keep their jobs.

An SRC member who wanted to remain anonymous said: “After Monash leaves‚ they [students] don’t want it to change into a college. A lot of students are just worried about what happens in five years’ time when they are done with their degrees… what happens when they present a Monash South Africa degree‚ but then it [the private university] has a different name or a different college.”

The SRC member added that Advtech had not addressed students about their takeover.

“We were completely blindsided and feel students should have a say in what goes on in their school.”

MSA confirmed the peaceful protest on Thursday.

“The management of MSA was kept abreast of the planned activity and confirms that normal campus operations‚ including classes‚ were not affected.”

It added that the university management will continue “to explain what the change in ownership means”.

“Students have been given the assurance that there would be no changes to the qualifications they registered for.”

MSA has roots in Australia and is a joint venture between Monash University and Laureate Education. It has room for 6‚500 students and will slot in with Advtech’s existing tertiary brands‚ like Varsity College‚ Rosebank College and Vega.

Demand for private tertiary education offerings has increased in recent years as learners battle to qualify for limited places at traditional universities‚ look for more affordable options or just prefer to pursue specialised‚ non-university training courses.

- Additional reporting by BusinessLIVE