Organisations representing students have welcomed the Pretoria High Court’s decision that has set aside Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s instruction to the University of South Africa (Unisa). Nzimande wanted the institution to reduce the intake of first-year students by 20 000.
Judge Mamoloko Kubushi issued her judgment on the issue yesterday, nullifying the Minister’s instruction.
The judgment also set aside Unisa’s decision to have one semester for the 2021 academic year. The ruling means that Unisa is forced to revert back to two-semesters per year and to admit at least 57 000 first-year students.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Black Lawyers Association Student Chapter (BLASC) and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) had approached the High Court to have these decisions reviewed and set aside.
“We are happy that the court ruled in our favour but not only did they rule in favour of Students Command but they ruled in the favour of the 20 000 students who were about to be denied education in the academic year.
The EFF Students Command will always be there and available to represent all citizens and all the students with their issues with regard to academic issues and also we want to welcome the decision of the High Court on the semester approach, not to have this academic year a one year semester,” says EFF Student Council’s National President, Mandla Shikwambana.
He says Minister Nzimande had not consulted with students before making the instruction to Unisa:
Student body, South African Students Congress (Sasco), has also welcomed the ruling.
“Of course we’ve been consistent on our call for the increasing access in the institutions of higher learning and for ensuring that the students once they enter the system, they’re able to study and pass which is our principles of success.
So, we fully welcome the decision and of course we will study the judgment further so that we are in a position to fully grasp the implications of the decision both on higher education and Unisa,” says Sasco’s National Secretary General, Buthanane Goba.
Black Lawyers Association’s Students Chapter (BLASC) is also over the moon.
“Unisa together with the Minister of Higher Education Dr Nzimande will from now implement student-centered decisions since it is imperative to remind them that students are primary stakeholders of the university. There is not a university without students therefore any decision by the institution and the Minister must put the students at the centre.
The Minister and the university must always remember that they are there to serve the students and must refrain from making any conclusions that are detrimental to the students’ populace,” says BLASC’s Tshepo Mahlobogoane.
Education activist, Hendrick Makeneta, has called on institutions of higher learning to keep the doors of learning open as enshrined in the Freedom Charter to allow students to register for the 2021 academic year.
“It is really unbelievable that almost 27 years into democracy students are still fighting for access to education and fight for the same things that the current generation is fighting for. The ANC government should put a stop to this by leading the demands of the students which in my view are reasonable,” Makeneta says.
Both the Department of Higher Education and Unisa management say they are still studying the judgment.