The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has voiced disappointment over the non-attendance by the Council of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) of a scheduled meeting with the Committee.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Connie September, said the conduct is unjustified, especially coming from senior people tasked with governance of such an important institution as CPUT. “The committee does not take kindly to such behaviour, especially when it looks to impact on the education of the African child. The University Council missed an opportunity to benefit from insightful input from Members but also the benefit of being constructively critiqued. We are extremely concerned about reports received at the meeting that suggest that not all is well at the institution,” Ms September said.
“The committee had been concerned about instability at the institution as well as the absence of a Vice-Chancellor (VC) who resigned and to date there had been many acting VCs. 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,” Ms September said.
Ms September said there had been many attempts made to meet with all stakeholders but that had not been realized. 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 an 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 the university management, Student Representative Council, and organised labour, and was briefed on university leadership, vacancies, and instabilities resulting from #FeesMustFall campaign. Other issues that the committee was briefed on were transformation, shortage of academic staff, student accommodation, and NSFAS funds.
Ms September said 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.