Union Calls An End To National Shutdown

Following meetings with Student Representative Council members and the Minister of Higher Education, the South African Union of Students has now put an end to the national shutdown with immediate effect. Students all over South Africa were protesting for free education and for students with debt to be allowed to register.

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The National Shutdown has officially come to an end, with immediate effect. This is the ruling from the South African Union of Students (SAUS).

This follows engagements with various stakeholders.

Misheck Mugabe, the President of SAUS, said:

When we called for a shutdown, we were not happy about what was happening where students were facing massive financial exclusions.

SAUS met with Student Representative Councils (SRC) on 30 March and discussed developments regarding the shutdown. 

The decision to call of the shutdown was unanimous across the 26 Universities' SRCs.

The Union is now encouraging students all over to go back to campus.

More than 500 000 students are said to have been financially excluded and were told to pay their student debt before they were allowed to register.

Some Universities allowed students to register even with historic debt, with a promise that a plan will be made in regards to paying the debt.

Other institutions have started unblocking students. 

643 000 students who were on the verge of financial exclusion managed to register in the last two weeks through online registration, said SAUS in a statement.

"There is now a small percentage of students that is unregistered," said Mugabe.

SAUS is working to ensure that all students register.

All Universities in the country have extended their registration deadlines by two weeks.

Now, students are being given access to Universities.

Discussions are said to be continuing when it comes to the R13 billion student debt the country has.

It's still a headache for Universities. It's still a headache for students. It is still an albatross of progress for many students. 

There are also ongoing engagements about free education as SAUS says, "The forgotten free education discussion is back on the table."

Mugabe said, "Let those discussions proceed while students are back in class so that we don't lose more academic time".

The Union is concerned about losing academic time and has said that this could lead to being excluded again due to not performing well.

They are calling for Parliament to discuss the student debt issue as the problem is still present.

SAUS is also calling for the private sector to come on board to ensure students can be assisted to clear their debt.

In addition to this, SAUS wants institutions to come up with mechanisms to ensure that they generate funds and resources to assist students.

Another victory is that 17 universities are already providing students with academic records while a process has been put in place between the department, SAUS and Universities South Africa to ensure that the other 9 universities do the same.

"There is no time to run away from the problem. Let us face it and see how we can resolve it so that the future of our students is secured."

 

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