CAPE TOWN - Parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education and training has voiced its disappointment over the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) council’s failure to attend a scheduled meeting with the committee.

According to committee chairperson, Connie September, the committee had been concerned about instability at the institution as well as the absence of a permanent vice-chancellor (VC).

“Violence and torching of buildings during protests is a matter of concern, and the possible effects on learning and teaching, as well as the alleged negative outside influences that had been cited,” said September.

September added that there had been many attempts made to meet with all stakeholders but that had not been realised. The committee members expressed profound disappointment with the council not doing a presentation when the committee had come to them, as well as the absence of the council chairperson.

“This is such a critical period in our country where monitoring of universities needs to be scaled up, in ensuring smooth operations following the introduction of the fee-free policy aimed to benefit the poor child,” she said.

On Wednesday, the committee undertook an oversight visit to CPUT with the intention to get an update on registration and operational challenges following the introduction of the fee-free policy among the first poor and deserving admissions.

The committee met with stakeholders, including university management, the student representative council, and organised labour, and was briefed on university leadership, vacancies, and instabilities resulting from the #FeesMustFall campaign. Other issues that the committee was briefed on were transformation, shortage of academic staff, student accommodation, and the national student financial aid scheme(NSFAS).

September further said that the council will be summoned to parliament, as accountability was not optional. “CPUT is central to the education sector and the committee will spare no effort in ensuring that the university functions like any other, free of administration and governance challenges,” she said.

“We are extremely concerned about the instability that still persists at the institution, including students not completing the necessary applications since 2017 to apply for NSFAS funding. We will engage with the department and will have to keep CPUT in our oversight agenda,” she said.

African News Agency/ANA