Students take leadership to a higher level

25 April 2006

UCT undergraduate Yershen Pillay is one of 11 student leaders elected to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the South African Union of Students (SAUS).

Launched on 31 March, SAUS is the first ever national student representative union encompassing most of the country's higher education institutions.

The launch, which took place at the University of Stellenbosch, was attended by South African deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

As the highest decision-making body of the union, the NEC will represent the interests of South African students at a national and international level. The members are elected by their peers and have each served on the Student Representative Council (SRC) in their respective institutions.

Pillay says: "I feel honoured to be elected. It is a great privilege to serve the student movement at a national level. I hope to use my experience in student politics to live up to the many expectations that have been placed on my shoulders."

A final-year Bachelor in Social Science student majoring in politics and economics, Pillay has an impressive track record. He was secretary-general of the SRC in 2005, and he also served on the university Senate Committee, the Strategy Committee and the Institutional Forum. In addition he was on the house committee of Clarinus Village and the Humanities Students' Council.

Rounding off his list of accomplishments, he was awarded the Deputy Vice-Chancellors' Leadership Award last year.

The national students' union is made up of SRCs from 18 of the country's major institutions, including UCT, Wits and the universities of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch, Pretoria and KwaZulu-Natal.

SAUS has been hailed as a milestone in the country's student movement, showing that students are now ready to take up the reins in playing a more prominent role in the country's development and advancing transformation in higher education.

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