Students at Stellenbosch University (SU) have no reason to feel inferior because of the public image being portrayed of the university, said former finance minister Trevor Manuel.
Manuel spoke at an event on 19 July at the University Museum, which was hosted by the Wimbledon and Vicmeyer clusters. He addressed issues of how students can be active citizens in society.
One audience member asked Manuel for his take on the public image of SU, since there is the idea on other campuses that students will by racially discriminated against at SU. Manuel answered that this was not the image of SU that he saw.
“I’ve seen other universities and none of them have such diverse faculties as SU. There are no reasons for inferiority at SU,” said Manuel.
Manuel added that there probably isn’t enough being done about the issue, but that students have the power to change this.
“Students carry the message stronger than university admin. Student togetherness and consciousness deal with these issues.”
Manuel also addressed Fees Must Fall and the feasibility of free education at tertiary level.
“Can the country afford it? I don’t know,” he said.
Manuel expressed that he feels the rich should be paying for their own education.
Referring to free education, he said that “we should work hard to secure it, provided that we know it is directed at the poor.”
He said that his own view of life is that he should pay for his own children’s education, but that he can’t expect the same from poor people.
Talking about what went wrong during the Fees Must Fall protests last year, he said that students have to analyse what went wrong.
“Who misbehaved? Call them out. If you are not prepared to do that, you won’t get progress on the issue.”
Manuel also questioned the value of spending money on the university system, referring to the amount of people that do not graduate or graduate late.
“Why are we happy putting our money in a system that is clearly not working?”
Manuel encouraged students to play an active role in solving the issues facing all spheres of society today.