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Update on student protest – 24 October 2015

- Wits University

Message from Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal:

I apologise for not communicating earlier about the timing of the University's re-opening. We were waiting to obtain clarity from Wits’ student leaders as to how they have decided to proceed. We wanted to avoid sending out conflicting information in this regard.

The students have just concluded their mass meeting and we have been told that despite the decision taken at the historic meeting between government, students and university leaders yesterday to agree to a zero percent increase for 2016, and to reorganise the academic and examination programme, our students have decided to continue with their protest.

We are disappointed at their decision, as we feel that it will put in jeopardy the academic futures of many students who will not be able to pass or graduate. This will only further entrench and deepen the inequalities in our society.

We strongly encourage all protesting students to participate in a parallel negotiation process that covers all outstanding issues and to allow the academic programme and examinations to proceed unhampered.

Wits will remain closed on Monday, 26 October 2015. However, a special meeting of Senate, the highest academic decision-making body of the University, will be convened on Monday to deliberate on the protest and to decide on the resumption of the academic programme. The outcome will be communicated to all students and staff thereafter.

We are also told that the protesting students have decided to reconvene tomorrow afternoon. Should they change their decision and agree to immediately resume the academic programme, we will send out further communication informing you of this and commence the programme on Monday.

One of the key issues that the protesting students have put on the table is that of the insourcing of all workers. This is a matter that the University is investigating and which it will deliberate upon at Council. Government also agreed at yesterday’s meeting to establish a task team to explore how the state could assist universities to address this challenge.

We will keep you updated as changes occur. In the interim, we encourage all students to continue to spend their time preparing for the examinations.

We apologise to all those who have been affected by the protests, especially our staff and students, and we thank you for your patience during this difficult period.