The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training on Thursday expressed its shock at the vast number of students squatting in residences at Walter Sisulu University (WSU) and King Sabata Dalindyebo TVET College in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the committee said it made the discovery during a week-long oversight trip to the province.
“The Committee received a first-hand experience of the situation at WSU’s Nelson Mandela Drive Campus where a single room accommodates three or more students due to limited student accommodation and the non-existence of access controls in the student residences,” read the statement.
“Also, both WSU’s Zamukulungisa and Nelson Mandela Drive Campuses have decaying student residence, lecture rooms and recreational facilities something that poses a grave challenge to student development.”
The committee said that during its visit, members of the Student Representative Council (SRC); the National Education‚ Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) raised their concerns about overcrowding and a lack of maintenance at residences.
“WSU’s SRC President, Mr Siphelo Mkhuzangwe indicated that the communication breakdown between the university management and students hinders the processes of resolving many issues relating to student development. NEHAWU and NTEU representatives expressed similar views, stating that labour unions are not consulted on important issues and that there is no transparency and the university management is not accountable,” read the statement.
During his presentation on Tuesday, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rob Midgley briefed the Committee on the maintenance backlog faced by the university, the plans to expand student accommodation and on progress on the 2018 registration process.
Meanwhile, KSD TVET College SRC Chairperson Mgweba Yanelisa refused to comment on students squatting at the institution.
Instead, Yanelisa said that students should not be forced to travel up and down to register, due to the lack of staff.
It is unclear what constituency plans both institutions have put in place to ensure that students won’t suffer when school starts. Registration at both WSU and KSD TVET College, however, is said to be running smoothly.