Student Protests at CPUT Over NSFAS Requirements
Sporadic incidents of protest action have taken place at the Bellville and Wellington Campus of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology this week. On Monday, protesters set fire to a cleaning supply room on the Bellville Campus, while a student recreational space called the SS Hall was torched overnight in Wellington. Also Read: CPUT Closes Campus Over Violent Disruptions
CPUT Management strongly condemn these acts of violence, which are perpetrated by a relatively small group of students. Management equally condemn acts of intimidation, arson, malicious damage to property and any other form of criminality. Perpetrators of such acts will face the full might of the law, as well as CPUT’s institutional disciplinary rules and regulations. CPUT has a community of approximately 35 000 students across five campuses, and while these incidents are unsettling, it has not disrupted the academic programme for the majority of students.
The reasons given by protesting students are operational in nature, and range from, amongst others, shuttle service matters, cafeterias and the need for additional accommodation. The major issue, however, relates to an external issue with a new NSFAS requirement that any student who is studying for less than 60 course credits is no longer eligible for accommodation, living and transport allowance.
NSFAS initially verified these students for study at the commencement of the 2023 academic year, and the new condition leaves some students unfunded in critical areas. We understand the frustration of students with regards to this, and we, along with student leadership, continue to engage with NSFAS on the way forward. Also Read: CPUT Transport Arrangements for Emergency Evacuation of Residence
All these concerns, which have been discussed at a number of forums, including the university Council where the SRC have been present, will be engaged upon again at a meeting tomorrow where management will table its responses to the students’ memorandum of demands.
We wish to reiterate that we respect the right to protest peacefully. However, disruptions of this nature impede on the rights of the majority of students to attend classes and for staff to work in a non-hostile environment.
We are fully committed to engage with student leadership in finding solutions.