23 February 2022 | Story Lacea Loader

On the morning of 23 February 2022, some of the entrance gates to the Bloemfontein Campus were blocked by groups of protesting students. The gates were cleared by members of Protection Services and traffic could continue to enter and exit the campus.

Sporadic disruption of classes occurred during the course of the day, with several students being arrested by the South African Police Service (SAPS) for disruption of classes, which is contravention of the interdict.

The disruptive behaviour stems from students’ unhappiness with the response to the memorandum handed to the university management by the Bloemfontein Campus Central Student Representative Council (CSRC) on 21 February 2022. Also on 21 February, a memorandum was handed to the management of the Qwaqwa Campus by the campus’ CSRC. The Qwaqwa Campus was temporarily closed yesterday, following violent protest action this week; the date for the reopening of the campus will be communicated in due course. 

Today’s disruptive behaviour demonstrated by the group of students on the Bloemfontein Campus is condemned and will not be tolerated.

During this week and on numerous occasions before that, the university management has been in extensive engagements with the CSRCs on both campuses; concessions were made where possible, as was demanded in the two memoranda. However, the responses given, and the concessions made by the university were not accepted by the student leadership of the Bloemfontein Campus CSCR in particular, with more demands being made.

Concessions from the beginning of 2022:

To ensure that students register successfully for the 2022 academic year, the UFS has granted a number of financial concessions to students since the beginning of the year. The financial support given was specifically intended to fast-track the registration process of students with outstanding debt, and those awaiting confirmation of funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). 

These concessions included:

  • Allowing students who have previously registered for foundation programmes and those who have continued with mainstream programmes to register without the prerequisite of a first payment. The provision was granted to students who applied with the N+ rule and whose respective foundation programmes are included in the Department of Higher Education and Training-funded list.
  • Permitting students with outstanding debt of up to R25 000 and who await NSFAS funding to register provisionally.
  • The university also allowed conditional registration for first-time entering students, giving those who have applied for NSFAS funding until 28 February 2022 to finalise their registration. First-time entering students, both residential and non-residential, could register conditionally, provided that they pay an amount of R500.

Demands in the two memoranda received from the CSRCs on the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses included matters such as private accommodation; emergency accommodation; catch-up plans for students who have not yet registered; a registration threshold increase to R30 000; NSFAS allowances; and the extension of registration for international students without study permits. The Bloemfontein Campus CSRC did not accept the university’s responses to the memorandum.

The university management will continue engaging with the SRC.

Safety measures in place:

The situation on the Bloemfontein Campus is closely monitored. Protection Services is on high alert and continues to work closely with the SAPS to ensure stability on the campus.


Issued by:
Lacea Loader
Director: Communication and Marketing
University of the Free State

23 February 2022

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