Change the world


Lectures got off to a good start at Nelson Mandela University yesterday morning, with staff working on implementing and fast-tracking Management’s resolutions on the issues raised by the Student Representative Council (SRC).

Over the past weekend, Management continued its engagements with student leadership, where the latter submitted the latest version of their grievances.

Management remains committed to constructive engagement with the student leadership and wishes to implore student leadership to utilise the provided channels of engagement. Protest action should be the last resort, when all engagement platforms have proven unsuccessful in arriving at an outcome that takes the interest of the students and those of the university forward.

An update on the resolutions taken is provided below:

Concessions and financial aid issues

The University commits to accelerate the processing of applications for concessions through streamlining the process and improving the turnaround times within the University policy on concessions. To this end, a joint committee of the student accounts unit and the SRC will be established to enhance transparency, feedback to students, speeding up of the process and troubleshooting. This committee will be activated immediately. The Financial Aid Task Team is in place and the convenor of the committee will ensure that the functionality of the task team is enhanced.

Provision of accommodation for non-funded postgraduate diplomas

Last week, University Management communicated its commitment to subsidise the accommodation of non-funded advanced diploma students in on-campus residences to the tune of R2.5-million. To this end, the University will establish a joint committee between the SRC and Management to co-create criteria for the allocation of the R2.5-million to qualifying students. The remit of this committee will also be extended to the R800 000 donation to the SRC from the Motsepe Foundation.

Waiver of late registration

The University will waiver the late registration fee up to 05 March 2023, after which a weekly review of the nature and cause of specific cases that may prevent students from registering will be conducted in collaboration with student leadership. Based on this assessment, a recommendation will be made to University Management for a final decision.

Payment of book allowances

The book allowances for continuing students have been paid out in accordance with the rules of the laptop scheme.

Admission of qualifying Higher Certificate students to programmes they have applied for

The list of the affected, qualifying students from the George campus has been submitted. The Gqeberha list has not yet been received from the SRC.

Provision of concurrent registration

Students who wish to explore the option of concurrent registration are advised to apply through the Director: Academic Administration. Their requests will be considered in terms of the academic rules of the University, with the approval of the relevant Faculty or Academic Department. Students should note that NSFAS rules do not allow for students to be registered for two qualifications in the same year. This may prevent students from receiving NSFAS funding.

On-line learning for students without accommodation

While this request is noble and broadly supported, particularly if it were to be applied to postgraduate or senior students whose studies do not require intensive and comprehensive support, a selective approach has multiple and complex implications in terms of quality and resources. Management therefore proposed that a Joint Ad Hoc Team between the SRC and the various University portfolios be established to assess various implications of the request, consult faculties and other relevant stakeholders, and present a proposal for the consideration of MANCO, Executive Committee of Senate, and Senate.

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

As part of newly introduced NSFAS changes, courses that have less than 60 credits are not considered for funding. Given the implications of this, the University met with NSFAS, where it was agreed that the University may appeal this decision. The University is thus speeding up the process of lodging this appeal.

Safety and security

As an additional demand submitted over the weekend, the SRC raised concern over safety and security challenges on campus.

The Protection Services directorate, with a team of security experts, has undertaken a 360-degree assessment of the safety and security of Mandela University campuses. They will be making the following recommendations which are in line with the student demands:

  • Enhance the capacity of the protection services staff
  • Consider introducing a hybrid model (inclusive of externally sourced capacity), particularly at managerial level, to increase the capacity of security personnel
  • Source armed response services to patrol around our campuses to reduce robberies and muggings of both students and staff
  • Investment in security technology, such as advanced cameras, to deter criminals
  • Continuously improve access control at campus gates
  • Collaborate with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to speed up criminal arrests and investigations that are referred.
  • Fast-track the Closed Campus Project, which will assist in reducing crime from external perpetrators

In addition, through the Safety and Security Forum, established last year and the membership of which includes student leadership, updates are given around crime statistics and cases reported the local SAPS.

Another one of the students’ demands was for the integration of the University’s Protection Services and SAPS. These are governed by two distinct pieces of legislation and integrating them would require e a political or parliamentary process. Each of these entities has defined and prescribed roles and jurisdictions under the law.

The University’s Protection Services, however, continues to work alongside SAPS, as the law enforcement agency.

Shuttle Services

The Student Shuttle Services Department has assessed the capacity of the shuttle system and has noted an influx of students at certain pick-up points and a decrease in others. It will, as a matter of urgency, shuffle vehicle allocations to those locations with increased demand and reduce provision at those with decreased demand.

Student leadership called for a review of the shuttle operating schedule. There are currently long routes, which run on a one-hour rotation, and short routes, which run at 45-minute intervals. Due to congested highways and the University’s Transport Department’s opposition to speeding shuttles while in operation, it is not viable to apply a 45-minute rotation rate on long routes.

The SRC also called for a check-in system for shuttles. The department procured Salto Devices, which will be used to scan student cards before entry into the shuttles. The University will engage the service provider on the installation of these devices on all shuttles.

Conclusion and way forward

The University Management, at its meeting with the SRC on 20 February 2023, made firm commitments to address students concerns and, where practical, set deadlines. All these deadlines were met, such as the payment of book allowances and the provision of data.

The Dean of Students, at a meeting with the SRC on 21 February 2023 committed to meeting the SRC every second day to review progress on the implementation of commitments. This commitment still stands.

Having provided the foregoing comprehensive response, management calls upon the student leadership to:

  • Immediately deploy representatives to participate in the task teams that will drive the implementation of these commitments
  • Suspend the protest action to allow the above-mentioned processes to succeed
  • Directly engage the Dean of Students if there are hindrances in the execution of the above interventions.

Finally, the University’s commitment to social justice is unparalleled in the sector. Mandela University remains resolute to the creation of access for holistic success, particularly for students from the poor and working class. This commitment stems from our conviction towards education as a potent instrument for social change, which should be deployed accordingly.

The University enacts its social justice praxes within the limits, constraints, and external factors beyond its control. We therefore call upon the student leadership to equally appreciate these binding constraints and collaborate with the University in finding innovate ways of mitigating these, whilst preserving the University for the successive generations of young people as a place and space for sculpting creative agents for change.

Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057