UCT management responds to unlawful protest action

18 April 2023

Dear colleagues and students

The University of Cape Town (UCT) management has taken the necessary measures to respond to the unlawful protest action which broke out on campus on Monday, 17 April 2023.

On Monday afternoon, about three lectures were disrupted in the Kramer Law Building, and later in the evening groups of protesters fluctuating between 20 and 50 individuals blocked Baxter Road and started small fires on lower and upper campuses.

UCT management has had to respond to these unlawful actions through increased Campus Protection Services presence, and through the intervention of the SAPS as per the interim interdict granted by the Western Cape High Court in February 2023.

There has, at this stage, not been any further disruptions on campus on Tuesday, 18 April.

Management hopes to resolve the situation speedily and to work collaboratively with the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) in the best interest of the UCT community.

It should be stated in no uncertain terms that, contrary to claims made, there has been no breach of the mediation agreement on fee blocks reached with the SRC in March 2023.

In line with the mediation agreement, the management has implemented additional measures to address issues related to fee blocks and enable more students to register for the 2023 academic year.

Management conducted a survey on a cohort of students with fee blocks who were registered in 2022 and are academically eligible to continue this year. Through this survey, students who wished to register for the 2023 academic year were able to indicate their wish to do so.

Once the students who wished to be considered for registration in 2023 had responded to the survey, management conducted individual academic and financial assessments as per the mediated agreement. The relevant clause supporting this step, as reflected in the agreement, states that:

“The university executive management team shall, in a consultative manner using a participatory and inclusive methodology, conduct a review in respect of its fee policy, with specific reference to the application of a ‘fee block’ on the grounds of the financial means of the university and the needs of each student, the socio-economic conditions affecting each student, the academic performance of each student, and so forth.”

Management was guided by two key principles in carrying out this process. The first and significant factor was the feasibility of academic progression in 2023 based inter alia on the nature and structure of the degree programme. The second factor was the outcome of a financial assessment of each student.

Following the process of conducting individual academic and financial assessments, management and the SRC jointly tabled a report and proposal at a special UCT Council meeting held on Wednesday, 5 April 2023. This, too, was as per the mediation agreement, which states:

“All students in this grouping of academically eligible students will be presented to Council with a recommendation. The format of the presentation will be by category, not on an individualised basis, and will be presented as a joint recommendation by the executive and the SRC.”

This joint proposal was approved by Council. In a nutshell, the proposal requested Council to lift the fee block for students identified through the combined academic and financial assessments. After Council’s approval, the outcome was communicated by management individually to students.

As the above shows, UCT management has taken the necessary steps to implement the outcomes of the mediated agreement, following approval by Council as the custodian of all decisions relating to the UCT policy on student fees.

Management remains committed to further engagement with the SRC, both on the agreement around fee blocks and on the outstanding issues as reflected in the mediation agreement.

Communication and Marketing Department

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