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Update from the Senior Executive Team - 14 March 2021

- Senior Executive Team

SET and SRC meets.

Representatives from the Senior Executive Team met with a delegation from the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) on Friday evening to discuss a number of further demands put forward by the SRC and other student groups in the higher education sector.

As we understand, some of the major demands are as follows:

  • Wits (and other universities) should postpone the commencement of the academic year to 30 March 2021.
  • All students must be allowed to register, irrespective of the quantum of debt owing to the University.
  • All students must be allowed to graduate, irrespective of the quantum of debt owing to the University.
  • There should be no fee increases for 2021.
  • All students who receive residence offers must be allowed to occupy residences with immediate effect.
  • Universities must pressurise government for a debt bailout for all institutions.
  • All international students from the SADC and broader Diaspora regions must be allowed to register without having to effect payment of 75% of the tuition fee upfront.
  • All suspension orders must be uplifted with immediate effect.

Students’ request for assistance

The SET remains committed to assisting academically-qualifying students who have applied for the 2021 academic year to register, whilst remaining financially sustainable. Of the 1 200 applications for assistance from the Wits Hardship Fund, about 700 have already been assisted. We are working through the applications on a case by case basis and commit to responding to the remaining 500 applications before Friday, 19 March 2021.  

Engagement with the SRC

Following deliberations with the SRC on Friday evening, the Senior Executive Team met today, Sunday, 14 March 2021 to discuss the demands listed above (and a range of other demands). The SET will consult with members of Council and other stakeholders, before engaging with the SRC on Monday afternoon.

Sectoral engagement

A Universities South Africa (USAf) meeting will be held early tomorrow morning with the 26 vice-chancellors of public universities at which some of these issues will be discussed. We will communicate the outcomes of this meeting to our various constituencies thereafter.

Wits’ operations tomorrow

The academic programme will continue online tomorrow, as determined by faculties, and Wits remains fully operational. Senior executive members, in consultation with managers, will determine the on-campus staffing requirements in order to ensure the continuity of University activities.  

Appeal for calm

We encourage all parties to remain calm, to exercise maximum restraint, and to attempt to resolve issues through dialogue and engagement. We remain committed to engaging with student leaders to try to resolve these matters at the institutional, sectoral and national levels.

We will keep you updated as any major developments occur.

Thank you