The on-going strike that is taking place at the Tshwane University of Technology and University of South Africa has taken a toll on the university’s academics. TUT students from all nine campuses marched the streets in February to express their grievances in terms of their 2019 allowances. The strikes took place after students became aware that allocation of their meal allowances have changed. Both TUT and University of South Africa (UNISA) students clarified how they rely on the allowances in order to survive as they come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
TUT released an open letter on 13 January 2019 from the office of the vice-chancellor professor Lourens Van Staden, which was addressed to parents and stakeholders stating that according to the NSFAS circular 6 which is based on the Department of Higher Education (DHET) 2019 policy, only students residing at the varsity residences and accredited accommodation will receive meal allowances.
The letter furthermore explained that because of more than 60 000 students who are enrolled at the university it is now become a challenge for them to fund all students in terms of meal allowances. On the on the other hand UNISA students were crying about the late distribution of their allowances as other students are dependent on them to buy text books. UNISA students were presented with a choice between receiving R5 000 book allowance or being issued a laptop which made the students uneasy.
Prior to the strike UNISA management released a press release on the 12th of January 2019 stating that they have reached an agreement with the SRC which was put on paper and signed by both parties, as a result the strike was called of with immediate effect. The University resumed its normal operations on Monday 14 January 2019. TUT campuses remain on shut down because the management and the students could not find common ground. The University has supplied a lease agreement form for NSFAS qualifying students residing in private leased accommodation to quality for accommodation allowance and has made it clear that students living at home cannot receive meal allowance. Students of Tshwane University of Technology can find the lease form on the varsity’s website www.tut.ac.za.
It is not yet clear when the University will resume its academic proceedings, the students are still waiting for the varsity’s response to the shutdown.
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By: AMOGELANG RAMOTSHO