News for and about students from around the world.

Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University may not finish academic year 

As violent protests enter a third week at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, management fears that it will no longer be possible to finish off the academic calendar on time. Initially the protests centred on removing vice-chancellor Professor Chris de Beer and other members of management accused of corruption. De Beer is on special leave but protesters say that they still want to meet to address infrastructure concerns and lack of a conducive learning environment. The university was granted an interdict against protesting on campus but blocked roads and damage to property has led to a shut down. While a contingency plan has been drawn up, time is running out for students to conduct their practical and theory requirements. – Read more on the IOL site

Campuses forced to close as Eastern Cape runs out of water

More than 15,000 students at Eastern Cape universities have been left high and dry by the water crisis as campuses have chosen to close in the face of dry taps. The University of Fort Hare (UFH)’s Alice campus and the Walter Sisulu University (WSU)’s campus in Butterworth shut down because of unreliable water supplies amid a prolonged strike by municipal workers. Students and staff on the Alice campus were advised to take a break from their routine as Fort Hare hopes that the crisis will be resolved by Friday with academic activities set to resume on Monday, August 19. In Butterworth, community members invaded the WSU campus to access water. The situation soon worsened as community members and students began destroying the water supply system and various water containers on campus. The Amathole District municipality said it was dealing with the shortages by delivering water supplies by tankers and also alleged that plants had been tampered with and supplies switched off by “ill-disciplined workers”. – Read more on the IOL news site.

DUT launches its own inquiry into student’s death

The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has ordered an independent inquiry into the death of student activist Mlungisi Madonsela. The probe will also investigate injuries other students and staff sustained during the protests where Madonsela was fatally shot. To protest the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision not to prosecute the two security guards thought to be responsible, students marched to the Durban City Hall and vowed to continue protests until DUT did its own inquiry. DUT said it would call on experts to investigate the violence that led to Madonsela’s death. – Read more on the EWN news site

Nigerian students target SA businesses to highlight xenophobia

A number of protests aimed at shutting down South African-owned businesses have been held in Nigeria. The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) stated the protests were to highlight their anger at “continuous xenophobic attacks on Nigerian residents in South Africa”. A Shoprite in Ogun state was shut down on Saturday August 10, in response to the death of Elizabeth Ndubuisi-Chukwu, the deputy director-general of Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria who was strangled to death at Emperors Palace Hotel in June. A previous protest about her death had taken place in July. NANS public relations officer Azeez Adeyemi stated: “It seems the government of South Africa derives pleasure from the senseless killings and sees the continuous xenophobic attacks on Nigerian residents in South Africa as a norm.” Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor responded by saying that her department was concerned about “statements calling for the expulsion of South Africans and protests at South African owned businesses”. Pandor said the South African Police Service was investigating the death of Ndubuisi-Chukwu and that nobody “should abuse this unfortunate tragedy to generate negative sentiments about South Africa”. – Read more on the Daily Maverick site

Young Irish inventor tackles microplastic pollution in the ocean

Fionn Ferreira from Cork, Ireland won this year’s Google Science Fair
$50,000 (£41,100) top prize by inventing a way to remove microplastic pollution from the oceans. The 18-year-old’s idea was based on a process using non-toxic iron oxide (magnetite) to clean up oil spills. This extraction method proved to remove 85% or more of microplastics from the water. You can watch his process and explanation in the video below. Ferreira plans to scale the process up to an industrial scale, allowing for the cleaning of large volumes of sewage or seawater. The extent of microplastics pollution was recently brought to light when investigators found large amounts of microplastics present in ice core samples taken from the Arctic. – Read the full story on the Energy Live news site