The Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) said that it could not concede to demands that would increase the historical debt of students, as this would cripple it financially.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Student Command-run student representative council (SRC) at the institution has vowed to sustain protests in a bid to force the university to clear all eligible students for registration, as well as grant funding and academic certificates to postgraduate students regardless of historical debt.
The students intensified their protests on Thursday when they burnt tyres in front of the university’s main entrance and caused major traffic congestion by blockading the busy Mangosuthu Highway.
The students’ protest coincided with an ongoing strike by staff members who were demanding an 8% salary increase against the university’s offer of 3.3%.
MUT acting deputy vice-chancellor, Manyani Makuwa, said that like most higher education institutions in the country, they simply did not have the funds to meet all of the students’ demands.
“We have huge historical debt by students, and it’s not possible to continue increasing that debt while not knowing where the financing of that debt will come from.”
The institution announced that classes would commence on Monday but SRC president, Mthokozisi Gumede, said that this was unrealistic as just under 20% of eligible students had registered so far.
“Students are still not registered; they are still not accommodated, and they are still without allowances but classes are commencing on Monday. Workers are still on protest, so who is going to register those students in the two days we have?”
Gumede said that the university must prioritize clearing all students for registration and resolve an ongoing labour dispute over salary increments.
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