Following a full sitting of the NMMU Council yesterday the NMMU Council has called on Government to make a clear commitment towards the provision of a system of free higher education for the poor and a new funding model for the so-called “missing middle” for the 2017 academic year.
While these national solutions are being sought, it is critical that the 2016 academic year is not put at risk and that it is imperative that academic activities at NMMU resume soonest. Failure to do so will irreparably harm all our students, particularly those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. The blockade preventing people from acquiring their academic qualifications is ironic. Council is also deeply concerned about the costs and risks imposed on students from foreign countries.
There is no basis in our Constitution and law for students to block access to the university. It simply cannot be justified, and Council does not accept the notion that the “end justifies the means”. But it happily accepts the rights of students to strive for any cause as long as it does not impact on the rights of others to gain access to education at the University.
Council further believes that it is in the interest of the public good for NMMU to resume normal university activities and operations immediately. Any failure or delay to do so will effectively have a knock-on effect on space and capacity to enroll the next generation of first-year entrants. It also would prevent prospective graduates from taking up employment that will financially assist their households.
Council hopes those involved in the protests will return to class to complete their academic year, and ensure that future representations around “free higher education for all” are directed at Government, where the responsibility resides.