Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande. Picture: GCIS
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande. Picture: GCIS

EFF Students Command calls for end to limitations on student intake at Unisa

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Feb 19, 2021

Share this article:

Cape Town - The EFF student wing wants to take Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande to court over the alleged exclusion of more than 20 000 potential first year students from studying at Unisa.

EFF Students Command (EFFSC) spokesperson Xola Mehlomakulu said they have “noted with disgust” the exclusion that has characterised the higher education sector of late, which they say is endorsed by Nzimande who is arguing space and funding limitations.

Mehlomakulu said they are heading to the Pretoria High Court next month to challenge Nzimande's decision to exclude the 20 000 would-be students.

According to the student body, Nzimande instructed Unisa to limit their intake by 20 000 for this year.

In a recent letter to the university council, Nzimande outlined his concerns about Unisa’s enrolment. He said when Unisa had over-enrolled in 2018, the university was warned that it must adhere to its enrolment planning targets and that it would be penalised in the 2020/2021 financial year.

Nzimande said despite the penalty imposed, Unisa has once again not heeded the request to ensure it did not over-enrol in first-time potential students.

However, Mehlomakulu said Nzimande does not have powers to dictate how many students a university can take.

“The Unisa executive did not act reasonably and impartially and capitulated to the minister’s demands and, the decision made by the minister is irrational, unreasonable and disproportionate,” said Mehlomakulu.

Unisa spokesperson Tommy Huma said the Department of Higher Education and Training has approved that the enrolment target for 2021 should be 376 000.

Huma said the university was required to scale back on first-time students in 2021, particularly studying for higher certificates as that “generally” and “adversely” affects the Technical, Vocational and Training Colleges enrolments.

’’However, the number of students transferring from other institutions and returning students are unaffected by the enrolment targets,“ he said.

Education activist Hendrick Makaneta called on the department and the universities to halt exclusions of students, “especially the students who are academically deserving”.

Cape Argus

Share this article: