Posted on February 08, 2016
Dear parents and guardians of UP students
Last week there were incidents of disruption in some of the lectures. Such incidents pose a risk to the University’s mission to provide quality teaching and learning to students.
UP is working on a daily basis to address many of the challenges students are facing, such as study finance and affordable accommodation. This has included the establishment of a Help Desk to assist poor students. The University has increased its UP NSFAS contribution to assist a total of 3024 poor students who had applied for NSFAS loans, but were not funded or were not adequately funded. The financial blocks of a further 400 students who were identified as part of the “missing middle” were lifted. Altogether, the University has added an additional R 238 million to provide additional support for students in 2016, of which R 46 million was used to relieve historical debt, R 43 million was used to assist UP students not previously funded, and R 76 million has been provided to assist students with costs of food and residence outstanding debt. A further R 57 million was required as the University’s contribution to the 0% fees increase.
The registration fees for poor students who applied for NSFAS assistance and all those who submitted proof of bursaries were waived, allowing these students to register for the 2016 academic year.
With respect to residence places, no students who qualified for residence placement in 2016 in terms of the placement policy criteria, were denied access to the residences based on unpaid accounts from 2015. The residence capacity was extended by leasing a facility to provide an additional 280 beds. In addition, more than 400 students have also taken up accommodation in private accredited accommodation. Special arrangements have been made to provide immediate relief for a number of students who qualify for placement but had immediate housing needs. Furthermore, on 20th January 2016, the University of Pretoria signed an agreement with students, workers and Unions on the insourcing of workers. The agreement specifically prohibited further protest action such as occupation of buildings, disruption of classes and intimidation of staff and students.
In this light, behaviour by students which constitutes a threat to the core academic mission of the University is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. These actions have the potential to bring into disrepute the qualifications awarded by the University, as well as the reputation of the University itself. Ultimately, there will be a negative effect on the employability of UP graduates.
I wish to bring to the attention of all UP students, their parents and guardians, and staff, the provisions of the University’s Disciplinary Code for students (http://www.up.ac.za/yearbooks/rules/content/G02) which prohibits any illegal actions, and actions by any UP registered student which prejudice or compromise the maintenance of order and discipline at the University. The Code also regards as misconduct any actions of refusal to obey a lawful instruction or request. Furthermore, the Constitution of South Africa prohibits all actions constituting hate speech, including inciting violence or hatred based on race, gender, ethnicity or religion.
The University will therefore not hesitate to take disciplinary action against any student who is identified as having infringed the Disciplinary Code: Students. This could result in suspension or expulsion of students from the University and the consequences of a terminated academic career and even a criminal record.
I urge all students and staff to refrain from disruptive conduct. There are a number of peaceful ways in which the concerns of students can be addressed. The Deans, Directors and the Executive Management team are willing to create further channels to effectively address any issues.
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