Media Statement by DUT Prof Nqabomzi Gawe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal
As a result of the serious safety and security concerns emanating from today’s student unrest, Executive Management at the Durban University of Technology has suspended academic activities at all Durban campuses until Monday, 23 August 2010 when they will reopen. However, all staff members are expected to report to work during this period. The decision to suspend all academic activities follows acts of violence, safety concerns for staff and students and the extensive damage to institutional property, which has created an unstable environment for normal academic activity.
The protest which began on Monday, 16 August, has been fuelled by the inability of 2079 students to access financial aid. While these students would have met the financial aid criteria, the funding received from NSFAS is insufficient to meet the needs of all financially needy students. DUT Council and Management are not in a position to provide an appropriate solution; we have therefore turned to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DoHET) and National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to assist us in finding additional funds to cover the affected students.
The university is sympathetic to the students who require financial aid, however, we have been unable to access additional NSFAS funding. It is equally very difficult for the university to simply provide loans to cover all outstanding fees owed by financial aid students out of the DUT’s operational funds. The university operates on two income sources, namely student fees and a government subsidy. To remedy the situation, a cash injection in the region of R35 million is required, excluding the cost of other additional services. DUT does not have funds at its disposal to cover a debt of this scale. This type of action has the potential not only to create financial instability within the institution but also has the potential to render the University insolvent.
Under the circumstance, we cannot accede to the SRC’s demands. This situation including the university’s inability to access additional funding has been communicated and explained to the SRC. Inspite of this, the SRC has decided to deal with the matter by embarking on disruptive and violent protests to render the institution ungovernable. We await a formal response from NSFAS and the DoHET on our request for additional funding. At this juncture it is very difficult to say that whether such assistance is forthcoming.
Division of Corporate Affairs
Durban University of Technology
Tel: 031 373 2845
Cell: 073 67 33345