UKZN burning: Urgent meeting requested – DASO

Students who fall in annual income bracket of R350 000 - R600 000 shouldn't be liable to pay 15% of historical debt

UKZN burning: DASO requests urgent meeting

4 February 2020

The Democratic Alliance Student's Organisation (DASO) KZN has requested an urgent meeting with UKZN Campus Management to discuss the registration challenges and violent protests at the UKZN Howard College and Pietermaritzburg Campus. DASO eThekwini Councillor SibonisoSibisi was on site at Howard College Campus yesterday to speak to students about the unfolding situation.

To DASO's knowledge, UKZN management informed the SRC and students that all students with outstanding fees stemming from historical debt need to pay back at least 15% before being allowed to register.

In the past, students had been allowed to register regardless of outstanding debt. Over the past 3 years this student debt has accumulated drastically and it has become wholly unaffordable for students to pay back with some owing as much as R150 000.

For many students who are unemployed and have parents that are also unemployed, a request to pay back 15% of historical debt is an impossible feat. Those requested to pay 15% of historical debt also include students who had previously been funded by NSFAS.

DASO maintains that students who fall in the annual income bracket of R350 000 - R600 000 should not be liable to pay 15% of historical debt and should be allowed to register as a matter of urgency and to continue their education.

The university has also refused to re-open the re-admission process for returning students who had to exit their degree for various reasons for this year (2020). UKZN has informed students who wish to return to complete their outstanding degrees that they will not be able to register for this academic year; instead, they will be given the opportunity to apply later this year for academic year 2021.

For many students this is a severe blow to their academic ambitions as now they will miss out on an entire year of studying. DASO believes that the university should open the application and registration process to returning students where each student is accommodated in a case-by-case approach by the relevant academic committee.

Students' frustrations due to these registration challenges have resulted in the burning of a UKZN Pietermaritzburg lecture theatre and a clinic building at UKZN Howard College.

DASO does not support any form of violent protest on campus - our institutions of higher learning should be a safe spaces for all students. All DASO members subscribe to a philosophy of non-violent protest and we have rolled out a peace pledge committing to non-violent protest on all our campuses in the province.

As DASO, we are however highly dismayed and concerned by the manner in which UKZN has approached students during the registration process. We have requested an urgent meeting to address these issues with UKZN Management and commit to following non-violent processes to achieve the best outcomes for all students.

Issued by Hannah Shameema WinklerDASO Constituency Head KZN, 4 February 2020