We acknowledge the #FeesMustFall student movement’s right to protest. We agree that there are fundamental challenges in the tertiary education system in South Africa, which needs to be considered seriously and addressed by the institutions as well as government.
We do not believe, however, that bringing educational institutions to a close is helpful to this cause as this will impact on a generation of students if they are not able to complete the academic year of 2016. The closing of tertiary educational institutions will also have vast financial implications not only on the students, their families and the institutions, but also to the broader economy of the country.
We therefore urge the students involved with the protest action at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) to commit to the reopening of our university so that teaching, learning and research may continue as a matter of urgency.
Although the NMMU students have shown discipline in their march, we implore them to continue to distance themselves from intimidation, violence and destruction of infrastructure as this does not do their cause any justice, undermine their credibility and is doing more harm to our institutions and the community at large.
The business community in Nelson Mandela Bay has contributed hugely to local academic institutions, particularly in the areas of research and development partnerships as well as by providing opportunities for deserving students in the form of bursaries and by providing access to internships and further career opportunities.