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

Students gun for Blade Nzimande after Unisa cuts 2021 intake to ease pressure on NSFAS

By James Mahlokwane Time of article published Feb 22, 2021

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Pretoria - Unisa students are set for more protest action against unfavourable decisions by the university and the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Blade Nzimande.

The National Students Representative Council and the EFF Student Command are blaming Nzimande for instructing the university to cut down new students by 20 000 this year to lessen the pressure on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

They are also upset that the university announced that students would have to register (for) both semester one and two of the current academic year and only write exams for both semesters at the end of the academic year.

This adjustment was made by the university after the department advised universities to make changes to their systems to accommodate 2020 matriculants whose results were yet to be released.

Subsequent to these changes, students plan to take protest action to the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology and outside Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.

SRC president Wadzanai Mazhetese said Nzimande and his department were basically the cause of all the decisions at Unisa that had not been favourable to students who desperately needed the right education system.

EFF students last week made a high court application to hold the department and Nzimande accountable and hopefully have the court force the minister to reverse his instruction to Unisa to limit students.

Mazhetese said, as part of the now trending #NzimandeMustFall, the EFF Student Command wanted all 20 000 who were denied access to critical tertiary education because of Nzimande’s decision to gather outside the high court on March 2 when the matter will be held.

He said access to education was too important in a country like South African and such a “reckless” decision by the department had made the students of this nation lose confidence in Nzimande as a minister responsible for such a portfolio.

EFFSC believed Nzimande could not dictate how many students a university accepted and that the executive of Unisa did not act reasonably and impartially.

“We are also planning for another massive protest of the affected students to come and join us outside the minister’s offices in Pretoria because he must know how their decisions are hampering the lives of many young people.

“The council of Unisa will be meeting this Wednesday so we are going to be there and we hope we can convince the general council to reverse the decision taken regarding the two semesters. The decision was taken by a scope of the council, we hope the general council makes a good decision,” said Mazhetese.

Unisa said students would not be forced to write 10 exams at one go after the two semesters because most modules would now consist of more assignments students could do from home.

However, students insisted there were disadvantages such as the registration fee being higher because of the two modules needing to be registered at the beginning of the year.

Spokesperson for the Department of Higher Higher Education, Science and Technology Ishmael Mnisi said: “At this stage what we can say is that we are aware that there is a political student that is taking this department to court and we will defend ourselves.”

Former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee also slammed Nzimande for ordering the university to limit students by 20 000.

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Pretoria News

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