Compiled by KRISTIN DE DECKER
University of Witwatersrand
Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits, Professor Adam Habib, has resigned and will leave the institution at the end of the year. This will end his eighth year in the position. Habib will take up the role as Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London, in January 2021. In a statement released on 18 February he said that “[his] decision was not made slightly. [He] is a proud leader and champion of Wits University and South Africa, and will continue to fly these flags high.” Chairperson of Wits University’s Council, Isaac Shongwe, commented that Habib’s “fearless, forthright commentary and his general robustness has left our university, and South Africa, a richer intellectual space, for which we are grateful.”
University of Kwazulu Natal
Emeritus Professor Erwin Brüning, a maths lecturer and German national, was physically assaulted by a student amid protests, over fees and historical debt, at UKZN’s Westville Campus. The incident took place on 19 February and was captured on two separate videos. The 77-year-old reportedly sustained minor injury to his hand after he tried to clear a path for his vehicle and began moving parts of a student made blockade. At first he was verbally assaulted and was then kicked from behind. As a result, a R10 000 reward has been offered to uncover the identity of the culprit. The reward was offered by UKZN’s alumnus Kiru Naidoo, who said that “to see a senior person bullied and beaten like that on the university premises is shocking”. Naidoo added that “it is unbelievable that there is such a deadly silence from the university”. Yesterday UKZN released a statement saying that they condemn the acts of violence, intimidation and destruction of property.
Tshwane University of Technology
TUT has denied rumours of racial conflict and struggles for power within its highest ranks. Sources suggest that the end of Vice-Chancellor Professor Laurens van Staden’s term will leave space for black leadership, fuelling alleged racial tension. TUT spokesperson Willa de Ruyter commented that “this speculation regarding racial tensions is false and without substance”.
University of Cape Town
UCT has implemented a new massive open online course (MOOC) to its existing short courses, to help students with disabilities and enable educators to provide specialised learning. Senior research officer and course conveyor for UCT’s Disability Studies programme, Dr Brian Watermeyer suggests that the MOOC provides a “first person” experience that accommodates lecturers and students alike.