Port Elizabeth - Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University has suspended all academic activities until further notice, the institution said on Monday.
University management responded in writing to all four memorandums of demand it received from student groups claiming to represent protesters, and held meetings with students at the George and Summerstrand campuses on Monday.
Following the meetings, a decision was made late on Monday night that the campuses would remain closed until further notice.
“In light of the above events, and the present escalating protests, tensions and violence within the sector which has seen many universities closed for more than a week, NMMU management feels it cannot safely resume operations,” spokesperson Debbie Derry said in a statement.
Students had barricaded the roads and prevented access to the main campus in Summerstrand since last Tuesday during protests against university fee increases.
Last week, SRC representatives and DA Students’ Organisation (Daso) members were asked to leave a meeting by the #FeesMustFall movement. Since then, a petition has apparently been circulating among students calling for the Daso-led SRC to be disbanded.
‘We will render it dysfunctional’
SRC president Nicholas Nyathi told students on Monday that the SRC has been receiving threats and that individuals were being funded to incite students to protest.
Acting Vice Chancellor Sibongile Muthwa warned students that a continued shutdown could have dire results for B-Tech students, final-year graduates, and matric pupils.
The university’s B-Tech courses were being phased out. Should students not complete their modules this year, they might not be able to finish their degrees in 2018, as the courses would no longer be available.
Another consequence was that the academic year could be extended into 2017 and the summer graduation might have to be postponed. This would ultimately prevent final-year students from graduating next year.
The processing of applications for next year’s admissions, and of financial support for qualifying students, would be compromised by a continued shutdown.
The NMMU Fees Must Fall movement posted on its Facebook page that it was not happy with the university’s commitment to engage with students, as the same promises had been made last year.
It acknowledged that the NMMU was not able to implement free education and that this was the result of national policy. It would however not allow the university to help develop policies that perpetuated the cycle of poverty.
“For as long as the system denies access to poor students we will render it dysfunctional,” it said.
It said its shutdown would continue until NMMU implemented “free and decolonised” education.
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