MUT’s response to the Sunday Times article

A press statement for immediate release                                         31 May 2021

 

MUT’s response to the Sunday Times article dated 30 May 2021

 

In response to the Sunday Times headline of 30 May 2021: “University that skimped on laptops gives staff highest pay rise”, the University wishes to set the record straight:

  1. On 7 May 2021, the University issued a statement with regards to a submission by the Student Representative Council (SRC) where the SRC argued that students wanted the full Learning Materials Allowance (LMA) to be paid to them, instead of 50% of the total which the Finance Department had already started releasing to students.
  2. The Finance Department’s plan was that the other 50% would be used as part-payment for the laptops that NSFAS procures for students once each student has indicated if he/she wants a laptop or not. Instead, the SRC proposed 100% release of the learning materials allowance.
  3. For students requiring laptops, the SRC proposed that students must be allowed to acquire them through an MUT-managed scheme meant for cash-paying students. This scheme utilises a special Covid-19 Responsiveness Grant (CRG) made available by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) for students not funded by NSFAS. Management could not accept this proposal as the funds in this scheme are limited and are meant for non-NSFAS-funded students and will also not cover the thousands of students funded by NSFAS.

This is what has been done by the University: 

  1. The full learning materials allowance has been released to students.
  2. The University believes that students who opted out of the NSFAS-funded laptop scheme and had their full learning material allowance paid out have indeed bought laptops through their own means, as per the proposal by the SRC.

Students who opted out of the NSFAS scheme will not be permitted to participate in the MUT-managed Covid-19 Response Grant (CRG) scheme as this is strictly for cash-paying students.

Online lectures are continuing seamlessly and there have not been any challenges with the online system as the University has given students carte blanche to procure laptops.

The University takes offense at the news headline because the journalist has only mentioned 10 universities that had given their staff a pay hike out of 26 universities in South Africa. Other universities declined to respond but MUT is being singled out as having ‘given the highest pay rise’.

MUT has come out of the most brutal protests since the beginning of the year and is at a point where it has returned to normalcy. To this end, the University is trying to reboot its brand and requires every stakeholder, including the media, to support this milestone which seemed impossible at the beginning of the year.

Relationships between staff and students are paramount to the University’s efforts of saving the academic year and saving lives. The University calls upon the media not to be a purveyor of divisive disinformation.

To quell disinformation that is being peddled in the media about MUT, a press briefing is scheduled this week (tba) and this allow the University to tell its own story about ongoing disciplinary actions, wage increase, student protests and how the University is rising amid these. The University has just completed an accreditation process by the Engineering Council of South Africa. At no point has MUT programmes been unaccredited and this is an example of how great stories coming out of MUT are shunned by mainstream media.

 

Submitted by the Marketing & Communications Department

31 May 2021