Wits students being tutored                                                                            Photo: Provided

Budget cuts lead to more tutorials being cancelled

Res-life tutorials, which are used to help first-years avoid failing university, are set to be cancelled at the end of this week due to budget cuts.

All Res Council (ARC) chairperson Xhanti Mshunqane said they were informed via email during the June break of the plans to cancel tutorials at all residences.

Mshunqane said they were told that a series of budget cuts has been put in place because of a tough financial year.

“They said they’ve had to cut budgets due to fees not increasing this year and because of the insourcing issue,” said Mshunqane.

Last year, following #FeesMustFall protests, the government and universities, including Wits, agreed not to increase fees. Wits also agreed to insource all workers at the university.

Mshunqane said the ARC does not believe it is fair on first year students to have to bear the consequences of budget cuts.

“The gap from high school to university is huge and that is the reason tutorials for all first year students living in res were initiated, cancelling them will increase the chances of first year students failing” he said.

Last semester, Wits Vuvuzela reported that tutorials for second-year maths students on campus were cancelled. After they were cancelled some pass rates for math courses were as low as 3%. Maths students then formed a volunteer maths tutoring programme to assist the students.

Mshunqane said the ARC had been trying to arrange a meeting with the director of campus housing and residence life Robert Sharman to discuss the matter further.

Wits Vuvuzela attempted to contact Sharman during the week but had not yet received a response as of the time of print.

Angel Thabela, a first-year physiotherapy student, said she found the tutorials to be very helpful and she is worried that they are being cancelled. “We understood the work better during tutorials than in the lecture room,” said Thabela.

Valencia Nkosi, a tutor at res-life, said the tutorials enabled them to give first-year students individual attention. Now that they are going to be cancelled first years won’t get that much assistance with their courses.

Mshunqane said they’ve proposed that all the major first-year residences use the budget allocated for the student development office as a temporary solution to the problem but because the Office of Res Life has not got back to them, they haven’t been able to put that alternative in place.

“We’ve been trying to get hold of Mr Sharman because the only way we can discuss this is through having a meeting with him but he hasn’t replied to us regarding our meeting,” said Mshunqane.

Thandoluhle Khumalo, ARC vice chairperson and house comm at Sunnyside, said they have called for volunteer tutors meanwhile to assist first-year students.