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25 October 2015
Update on the resumption of classes, for the week starting Monday 26 October 2015

You are probably all aware of the victory achieved by the #Feesmustfall movement and campaign, in securing the promise of a Zero Percent Fee Increase for 2016, as announced by President Zuma on Friday, 23 October 2015.

All universities, including our own, have agreed not to pass on the cost of the required increases to students for 2016 with the explicit understanding that the State would provide for the shortfalls to all universities on a differential scale. It was accepted that without this support, many university services and investments supporting in particular, the access and success of poor students would come to a halt, in some cases, leading to the collapse of some universities. In addition, a Presidential Task Team is currently looking into ways of providing debt relief to 2015 NSFAS recipients and those eligible for NSFAS support, but not currently funded. It was also agreed to widen the terms of reference of the Task Team to report on how long-term problems in the costs and funding of the entire higher education system, including fees, could be addressed.

These decisions will have huge implications for NMMU, and this coming week, we will consider how best to manage their effects on our system, and ensure communication with both staff and students about all critical issues. As this is underway, we have to urgently face up to our legal and moral responsibility of restarting the academic programme. Many parents and students have expressed extreme concern and anxiety over lost time, and fears that students would be detrimentally affected if no adjustments are made to the exam time-table. I would like to assure our students and parents that our Deans are already working on adjustment schedules and support measures to better cope with the difficult time ahead.

We are also seeking ways of meeting with the student leadership and wider affected student body about restoring open, secure and constructive relations, including talks about a series of grievances raised by the organised student body in recent days. We hope these meetings will take place and help to create stability and normality in the academic system.

ALL students must be afforded the chance to perform to the best of their ability in the forthcoming examination period as we want them to succeed. NMMU wishes to reassure all students that alternative arrangements and schedules have been or are being developed in every faculty to accommodate loss of time and classes, to make up for assessments, practicals or examinations that may have been interrupted or missed during this past period. In addition, arrangements are also being made for support to be provided for those students who wish to make use of such supplementary educational services that will be offered in preparation for the upcoming examinations and assessments. Every faculty will have considered comprehensively, and in consultation with students and staff, what will need to be put in place to ensure that students are able to go into their end of year examinations confident that they have completed and made up for any loss that may have occurred during the week or so of student protest action.

We wish students and staff well during the next few weeks as we go into the final lap of this academic year, and look forward to engaging in ways that are respectful of everyone’s rights, and everyone’s responsibility to ensure student success!

Prof Denise Zinn, DVC Teaching & Learning 
with the FULL SUPPORT of the Vice Chancellor, Prof Derrick Swartz, and all the Executive Deans and Campus Heads.