Update on protest activity on UCT campuses

11 February 2022 | VC Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng

Dear colleagues and students

Many of you would have experienced difficulties in gaining access to the campus today as a result of road blockades and the suspension of UCT Shuttle services. In addition, there has been a protest at the Fees Office in the Kramer Law Building. These protests are led by our Students’ Representative Council (SRC), and centre on the exclusion of students who have outstanding debt of more than R10 000 from registering for the new academic year. We endorse the role of the SRC in raising issues of concern to students, and we recognise the right to peaceful protest.

The exclusion of students who have outstanding fee debt is a difficult and contentious issue for the university. On the one hand, we know that many students and their families find it hard to cover the costs of gaining university education. These difficulties have been exacerbated by the reduction in NSFAS funding, inflation and the devastating economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But on the other hand, the survival of the university depends on our ability to collect student fees and there are clear limits to the fee debt that the university can carry.

Our policies and practices for recovering student fee debt are determined by the University Council. In response to the SRC’s representations, the Chair of Council has agreed to call a Special Meeting of Council to reconsider the current fee debt policies. This will take place on Monday, 21 February, when Council will consider a proposal from the Executive Director of Finance as to how our approach to student fee debt can be modified, such that it ensures that we provide relief to students who have demonstrable need and are in a position to complete their studies at UCT.


Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

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