Tuesday, 3 November 2015

UWC SRC Statement of update on the gains of students 03/11/2015

[from https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=976126702460093&id=762721073800658]
Statement of update on the gains of students
03 November 2015
The Student Representative Council of UWC called an urgent Mass Meeting on the 3rd of November 2015. This was done to present to all students some of the positive gains which were so far recorded. It has always been the view of the SRC that there still needs more to be achieved and more concessions to be made in order to enhance the experience of students on campus. In this meeting the SRC had also invited the Rector to respond to the grievances of the broader student populace. It is unfortunate that the meeting could not conclude its business owing to various competing political interests and thus denying the student population an opportunity to interact and get feedback from the SRC. Going into this Mass Meeting, another meeting was already scheduled to take place with the‪#‎feesmustfall‬ movement so as to establish common ground and map a way forward. It is worth noting that most of these points that were under discussion were already in the SRC’s Programme of Action. In fact, most were already being discussed and agreed to by the SRC and with the University Management.
In that meeting, the SRC also agreed with the #feesmustfall movement to bring peace and calm to the university. This is in line with what the SRC President Akhona Landu made mention of when she said “It is sad that the #feesmustfall movement resorted to violence, intimidation and bullying tactics to innocent students of UWC. However for peace and ensuring a safe and conducive environment for our students, the SRC found it prudent to invite the group that has caused havoc on campus and engage with them”.
The following are the victories that were recorded on the meeting held on the 28th of October 2015, 1st of November and the 3rd of November 2015.
On the 3rd of November the SRC had the management to agree on the following additions
1. The meeting resolved that there will be free registration for all students in the year 2016 moving forward. Students will be registering once at the beginning of the year.
2. On the issue of Kovacs, it has been agreed that the Rector will be in engagement with Kovacs management regarding the removal of the fence as it creates a class difference. This will be done to also ensure social integration amongst students.
3. It was also supported by the Rector that the Executive Management must not be getting any further salary increments. This will be sent to the University Council for ratification.
4. The Picketing Policy will be presented to Council for review.
5. Free Counselling will be provided to the entire student community.
6. The meeting concluded that the dissolution of the SRC which was called for by the #feesmustfall movement will not happen as there was both no factual and legal basis to their demand. The SRC constitution, any other university statute and the Higher Education Act does not provide a legislative framework for such a call.
7. The University will also extend the shuttle service to students residing in surrounding areas such as Belhar.
The following are victories which were already recorded by the SRC prior to the meeting which was held on the 3rd of November 2015
1. Financial exclusions
Students who are academically deserving (50% +) and cannot afford upfront registration, will not be financially excluded from registering in the year 2016. It was further resolved that needy students, bursary holders, NSFAS recipients will not pay upfront registration. The university will implement the 0% fee increment for 2016.
2. Food Security
On Food security and support for students, the university resolved that a R2 million is to be set aside to support students that have financial challenges, upon the registration process.
The SRC will continue engaging in serious and solution-oriented discussions with the University around the total scrapping of registration fee for 2016.
3. On NSFAS application & 2014 NSFAS shortfall
The meeting agreed that the academically performing students affected by the 2014 NSFAS short fall will not be negatively affected during the 2016 registration period. Further the university will engage with the NSFAS board for additional funding. The university further commits to explore further funding options to combat the 2014 NSFAS short fall.
It was also agreed that the financial aid office will re-open the applications for funding for the 2016 academic year. The date(s) for the re-opening will be communicated to students
4. Online versus paper based application
The university will continue with a dual system of online applications and paper application forms will be acceptable. The University has agreed to make available print application forms where needed or requested.
5. Application form fees
No application fees will be charged for the new cycle of applications for 2017.
6. Access system in residences
The restricted access system in residences will be abolished after safety and order has been restored on campus and the university commits to full implementation in 2016.
7. Student Cards
The cost for a lost student card or the replacement of a student card will be reduced to R70. Students have the option to pay by cash or for the cost to be billed to a student’s account.
8. Examination times
It has been agreed that that there needs to be a review of slots/times to ensure the safety of students. This will be considered for 2016 and will be processed through appropriate governance structures for ratification.
9. Student Number as form of Identification
The SRC managed to convince the university to ensure that students only write their student number on assessment papers (tests, assignment etc.) as opposed to writing full names. This will be submitted to the relevant governance structures for ratification and Implementation from 2016.
10. International students’ office
An office for international students will be established in the beginning of 2016 to assist with all matters related to international students.
The university has agreed to the SRC proposal of engaging with the Department of Home Affairs about the possibility of a mobile office on campus quarterly to assist students with documentations.
Assistance to refugees will be managed by the International Office to be established before the 2016 registration period commences.
11. Differently Abled Students
The university has already, on several occasions, met with DASA and have been presented with a list of issues, including physical infrastructure, service delivery in terms of support, and academic arrangements such as examinations. On the basis of this, a plan has been developed to be implemented with ongoing engagement with DASA. The University will establish an inclusive task team, consisting of DVC Student Development, SRC and DASA, to monitor the implementation of this plan.
12. Work study
The University will be reviewing the work-study rates and continue to ensure that there is preference not only for NSFAS but for all financial needy students.
13. Graduating with outstanding fees
The office of the Presidency of RSA has constituted a task team to deal with matters relating to students historical debts. The University together with the SRC will engage with the task team on how best to assist UWC students that owe and need to graduate.
14. Employment equity
The University Employment Equity Plan, as well as special initiatives to grow, promote, attract and retain black academics with a special focus on African academics, will be workshopped with the SRC.
15. Outsourcing
The SRC can confirm that the university will be embarking on a feasibility study of outsourcing in terms of the concerns around saving and curbing unnecessary exorbitant expenditure and engage with the SRC about these analyses. The SRC vows to closely monitor this process so as to ensure positive outcomes indeed emerge from this process.
There should be an encouragement for vendors to support students. However, it cannot be a condition of procurement otherwise it could be considered as unethical procurement processes.
16. Financial assistance funding committee
The mandate of the Bursary and Scholarship Committee will be extended to include the identification of possible alternative funding for students who are financially needy.

17. Institutionalization of Kovacs
It was agreed that all relevant stakeholders will have an urgent meeting this week before the exams to look at the proposed residence fee increase and how the university mitigates it.
The university is meeting with the Department of Higher Education and Training on the 5th of November to discuss the application for funding to acquire Kovacs, the University remains committed to finding the solution with the department.
18. Academic support
It was agreed that the Library will be open till 2am during the November/December exam period with exploring the option of operating for 24hrs in 2016.
A resolution was adopted that residence computer labs will be operating for 24hrs during the exam period and going into 2016.
The meeting agreed that all the academic staff will be available for consultation and to provide additional academic support throughout the exam period.
19. Safety and security
The meeting agreed to improve safety and security on campus and around the Belhar area during the exam period and a long term strategy that will include SAPS, Belhar neighbourhood watch and the general safety of the students in private accommodation spaces.
20. Examinations and Assessments
An agreement was reached that the exam period will commence on the 9th until the 28th of November followed by the Re-evaluation on the 30th of November to the 9th of December.
Furthermore, it was agreed that the scheduled December graduation will continue as planned in December. The date will be communicated in due course.
21. Accommodation
The university agreed that the residence application system will be re-opened for 2016 and that all those who received a response that was unsuccessful are urged to consult the CHC and Res Life staff.
The university agreed that a committee will be established to identify private accommodation that will be conducive for learning and living environment for all those students residing in private accommodation.
The university agreed that the financial aid office as well as residential services will provide the SRC with the database of students residing at private accommodation.
The SRC managed to convince the university that all the land lords must be regulated and accredited by the university, in line with the ministerial requirements for private accommodation.
The SRC managed to convince the university that Residential Services will immediately acquire computers for the differently abled students who reside at Chris Hani and the computer lab will be situated at the ground level.
22. On the Free Quality Education Call
In responding to the national call of free education by the SRC and students, the meeting resolved that a task team be put in place to explore options for UWC regarding the call for free education to be submitted to the Department of Higher Education and Training.
The SRC has consistently called for peace and stability on campus so as to bring a conducive and safe environment to ensure examinations take place. The SRC also prides itself in being rooted on the grievances of students and serving them selflessly with utmost dedication.
Yours in Active Student Governance
SRC 2015/16

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