01/26/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/26/2018 10:29
Parliament, Friday, 26 January 2018 - The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training yesterday (25 Thursday January) visited the University of Fort Hare to assess the university's state of readiness for the 2018 academic year especially the implementation of the new policy on free education for the first year students from poor financial backgrounds.
While members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and National Health Education & Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) highlighted numerous challenges relating to student accommodation and the poor infrastructure, there was mutual agreement that the new leadership of Fort Hare has the determination to take the university out of the problems it found itself in when it was placed under administration by the Minister of Higher Education and Training.
Student accommodation is one of the biggest challenges that was highlighted by members of the Student Representative Council (SRC) in its presentation to the Committee. The problem of accommodation was also observed by Members of the Committee during their walk-about on campus.
The Committee observed the smooth running of the registration process and this was echoed by both the university management and the SRC. The SRC and the labour unions welcomed the university's acceptance of walk-ins and the waiver of the minimum initial payment based on the announcement of the free tertiary education for first year students.
The Committee expressed its dissatisfaction with the use of violence and destruction of property which is part of student protest and which is evident at the staff centre that was totally destroyed.
The Chairperson of the Committee Ms Connie September has called upon all the stakeholders to find amicable solutions to problems that are faced by the university. She said she will recommend to the Minister of Higher Education and Training to consider implementing a process of mediation and arbitration at these institutions.
The University of Fort Hare's Vice Chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu agreed that the University faces many challenges, including a weak management structure, maintenance of infrastructure backlogs and irregular practices in Supply Chain Management (SCM) procedures. Prof Buhlungu also stated that these challenges are being addressed, especially those relating to student accommodation. He told the Committee that the university is in the process of building additional 17 blocks that are going to accommodate 2046 students.
The Committee commended the university management for the significant strides it has made so far in addressing those challenges. Ms September said that it is important for all the stakeholders to engage each other on the challenges facing the university and to find a common way forward in achieving the vision of the university.
ISSUED BY PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING, MS CONNIE SEPTEMBER.
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