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Wits reopens, engages on nine-point plan

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Wits University resumed lectures today – despite several incidents of fires being set on campus last night – and has agree to implement a nine-point plan to get the academic programme back on track:
* There will be no increase in fees for 2016. This means that academic, residence and any other fees will not be increased. The Presidency has agreed to underwrite the cost of this, provided that the University makes some contribution.
* The University is prepared to address the increase in the upfront fee payment.
* The University recognises that the protests have adversely affected the ability of students to write their examinations. It therefore commits to restructuring the academic programme and examination timetable. The examinations are postponed for now and a new examination timetable will be put forward as soon as possible. The new timetable will essentially be similar to the original timetable but will have new dates.
* The University recognises that outsourcing is an exploitative practice. The University commits to establishing its own internal commission. This is in addition to the President’s commission. The internal commission will be chaired by the Chairperson of Council and will comprise the Chairperson of Finco and representatives from all stakeholders, including students, unions and others. It may also include an independent expert. This commission will investigate the effects of outsourcing services on the University, the cost structures associated with insourcing and possible alternative models.
* The University undertakes to find financial resources to support the children of all workers employed in currently outsourced services, provided that these children qualify for admission to the University.
* There will be no disciplinary processes against students who were involved in legitimate forms of protest.
* The University commits to drawing up a workers’ charter.
* The University agrees, in principle, to make every effort to resolve any other outstanding issue that the students may want to address in good faith.
* Should the students agree to these measures, the University will commit to calling a General Assembly.