Change the world


This week has seen a series of engagements between student leadership and Nelson Mandela University Management, in a bid to address the various concerns raised by the Student Representative Council (SRC) on the back of Monday’s protest action.

Since the initial engagement with the SRC on Monday to formally table the students’ concerns, a lot of work had been put into addressing the issues.

The students’ concerns, accompanied by Management’s response are as follows:

  1. Prioritisation and admission of Higher Certificate students, who meet entry requirements into Diploma programmes.

The SRC was requested to submit a list of affected students to the Acting DVC: Learning and Teaching for a response on the matter. A list of students was received from George Campus student leadership, while the list from Gqeberha campuses is still awaited.

The George Campus list is being considered by the relevant faculties and qualifying students will be accepted in the relevant programmes that they applied for.

  1. The SRC wanted clarity on the criteria used for concessions and the process for appeals.

The process was explained, and it was agreed that the processing of applications should be expedited, and that the SRC will nominate one member to directly consult with the Director: Revenue Management on all Financial Aid related matters for students. This is ongoing work as the University’s Finance Department needs to provide statistical updates on the processing of concessions applications.

As at 22 February 2023, a total 6 075 applications were received. Of those, 2 564 were approved and 1 634 were unsuccessful but are, however, free to appeal the outcome; whilst 990 are incomplete due to outstanding documentation.

The processing of applications is being accelerated and prioritised by the finance division.

  1. Payment of full amounts for book allowance for NSFAS students

It was resolved that book allowances would be paid to those students who have not opted into the student laptop initiative; book allowances should be paid after all reconciliations have been made by Finance and ICT; particularly for those students who have paid for their laptops in full or partially in accordance with the rules of the initiative.

The SRC were implored to encourage first time entering students (FTENs) to opt in as part of the University’s laptop campaign to increase the number of students with learning and teaching devices. It was also agreed that the University’s ICT department would issue a call for students to opt in, and this was done from Monday, 20 February 2023. All payments would be processed by Friday, 24 February 2023, except to the FTENs.

  1. Provision of Accommodation for Unfunded Postgraduates Students

The SRC raised the perennial challenge of non-funding of postgraduate and/or advanced diploma programmes. They proposed that these students be allocated accommodation on campus. The University indicated that more than 250 unfunded Advanced Diploma programme students were already accommodated at on-campus residences. This is additional to about 700 non-funded students who are accommodated at our on-campus residences.

The challenges, as raised by student leadership, were noted. It was also noted that it cannot be resolved instantly as they require carefully thought through approaches. The SRC was advised to work with student housing in dealing with this matter within the framework of ensuring the sustainability of student housing.

The University Management Committee (MANCO) further resolved to subsidise the accommodation of Advanced Diploma students, who are academically deserving and financially needy, to the value of R2.5 million at its meeting on Tuesday. The applicable criteria for funding will be based on the approved policy for postgraduate scholarship. This is additional funding to the R28.5-million that the University spends annually in supporting this cohort of students.

Additionally, the SRC, has proposed to spend R800 000 (R600 000 for Gqeberha campuses and R200 000 for George Campus) of the R1.3-million donation received from the Motsepe Foundation, to support the Advanced Diploma students.

  1. Funding of postgraduate and Advanced Diplomas

The University, as part of its commitment to broadening access to financially needy and academically deserving students, has set aside funding for the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), Advanced Diplomas and Postgraduate Diplomas (PGDs). About 1 120 students benefit from this funding at a cost of about R28.5-million to the University.

University Management has committed an additional R2.5-million towards the accommodation costs for Advanced Diploma students. Criteria for allocation of the R2.5-million needs to be finalised for implementation of the aforementioned commitment.

  1. Postponement of the start of lectures by two weeks.

The SRC proposed postponing lectures by two weeks to allow time for the issues raised by students to be addressed. The University Management did not support the proposal and instead offered to have the lectures deferred by three days. The matter, however, was to be presented to MANCO and Executive Committee of Senate (ECS) for a decision.

The ECS subsequently resolved that lectures would be postponed by a week, and commence on Monday, 27 February 2023.

  1. Request for students who do not have accommodation to be given an opportunity to study online

The SRC suggested that students who do not have accommodation have a platform to enable them to study online. The Learning and Teaching division could not support this request as evidence shows that with the challenges of connectivity and loadshedding, this poses the risk of being potentially unviable and pedagogically misaligned.

It was thus resolved that this request could not be acceded to as it may compromise the quality of the learning and teaching process for the affected students.

  1. NSFAS funding for students studying courses that have less than 60 credits

As part of newly introduced National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) changes, courses that have less than 60 credits are not considered for funding. This mainly affects the extended programmes.

The Learning and Teaching colleagues, in the meeting with NSFAS, committed to look at all programmes that are affected.

It was resolved that the University engage NSFAS on the matter, with the objective to explore a possible deviation from the guidelines. NSFAS representatives have thus far indicated that they have engaged with both their chief operations officer (COO) and chief executive officer’s (CEO) offices regarding the ramifications of the 60-credit clause. The financial aid scheme is presently awaiting the University’s motivation for deviation to this effect.

  1. Waiver of late registration fee.

The SRC raised a concern on the payment of a late registration fee, despite some students being unable to register due to circumstances beyond their control. An explanation was given to student’s leadership that such would require a final decision from MANCO. MANCO thus resolved that the registration fee be wavered until 26 February 2023.


The University has dealt with and addressed most of the concerns raised by student leadership. Some of the matters raised, however, are beyond the University’s immediate control.

The University is committed to working with student leadership and the relevant stakeholders in the sector on outstanding matters that remain outside the direct control of the University. The said issues include some apparent policy gaps in the sectoral financial aid system and the generic issues of underfunding that students continue to face.

These, and other commitments, have been communicated to students through the SRC. It was thus surprising that following their mass meeting at the Kraal on Wednesday morning, that students decided to continue their protest action despite all that has been done to address their concerns.

While lectures are suspended for today, 23 February 2023, and tomorrow, 24 February 2023, staff may, with the approval of the respective line managers, exercise the option to work remotely for the next two days (Thursday and Friday); only if they are able to do so fully and efficiently.

The rest of the campus operations continues, particularly those services identified as essential, in support of the start of academic year on Monday, 27 February 2023. Essential services staff also include those involved in facilitating the full enrolment of students, in the student enrolment value chain.

Emergency Management Team 

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777