The Chairperson of the Committee on Higher Education and Training, Ms Connie September, has called on first-year students at the University of the Western Cape to work hard, and make sure new admissions were not impacted in the next year.

Ms September was addressing a welcoming party for the new admissions at the university on Monday. Students are at university and colleges to learn and pass within regulated time. If you fail, you clog up the system and there are many prospective students who are waiting to get into the system, Ms September said.

As our newest cohort of students for 2018, you join us at a time when higher education is undergoing rapid and dramatic transformation. We live in an era when knowledge is growing in importance in addressing the world’s most pressing problems, when technology promises both wondrous possibilities and profound dislocations, when global forces increasingly shape our lives and work, when traditional intellectual fields are shifting and converging, and when public expectations and demands of higher education are intensifying, she said.

She said the cost of post-school education has been rising, even as family incomes have remained stagnant or declined and as student debt has grown.

Ms September informed students that government has made a commitment to ensure that infrastructure is expanded. Therefore, we cannot choose to burn property to draw attention to our grievances. Let’s learn to engage and if engagements fail, there are other options like mediation and arbitration. These are processes that should be followed instead of burning property. Let us not be fault finders at all times, being solution finders will help all of you, she said.

Ms September will also lead the Committee on a week-long oversight visit to Gauteng, where the Committee will seek to satisfy itself on 2018 preparedness for the University of South Africa, University of Pretoria and the University of Johannesburg.

Government continues investing in education through the new policy of free higher education to the poor and working class, for their own personal development and for their contribution to the country through skills that they would gain at the universities and colleges, she said.

The skills acquired will open doors of opportunities, get better employment, reduce poverty in families, unemployment and inequality, she said.

University life is different from high school life. At school you had teachers acting in loco parentis (in the place of a parent) and giving you guidance which was often enforced with rules and punishment for breaking the rules. At post-school education you are considered to be an adult, you are expected to be responsible. You are more on your own, she cautioned the students and also called on them to familiarise themselves with gender-based violence policies and programmes of the institution.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa