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This article appeared in the Herald of 14 October 2016

WITH Nelson Mandela Bay’s youth unemployment rate at 46%, mayor Athol Trollip fears the figure could soar drastically if NMMU remains closed for the rest of the year.

Picture: BAZIL RAUBACH MAYOR’S APPEAL: SRC president Nicholas Nyati, left, mayor Athol Trollip and oppidani representative Zizipho Mbalane at City Hall yesterday

Trollip’s comments yesterday were made as the impasse continues over the closure of the university amid nationwide #FeesMustFall campus disruptions.

“We are concerned as a city that if this year’s university [student] intake do not write their exams, they will have to go back to university next year.

“But we are even more concerned that this year’s matriculants are not going to get access to the university,” Trollip told a media conference at City Hall.

Meanwhile, the first court-ordered NMMU mediation meeting was held at The Athenaeum in Central yesterday but was closed to the media.

This comes after a group of concerned parents resorted to the Grahamstown High Court in a bid to force NMMU to resume activities

Various stakeholders, including NMMU management, SRC members, leaders of the #FeesMustFall movement, as well as members of the Concerned Association of Parents and Others for Tertiary Education at Universities (Captu) were at the meeting.

A group of about 80 #FeesMustFall students gathered outside.

But as talks continued into last night, there had been no amicable agreement.

However, Captu’s legal representatives, Wheeldon, Rushmere & Cole, said they intended to make an urgent court application by tomorrow to force NMMU to open its doors on Monday.

Captu committee member Robert Griebenow, 49, said he had expected nothing to come from the meeting.

NMMU spokeswoman Zandile Mbabela said she was unable to comment.

Earlier, Trollip said: “The university is one of the most strategic institutions in the city and we must do whatever we can to help these students as they are the future of this city.

“If this impasse is not resolved, it will be a very grave situation for the future of this city, for this region, as well as for the country.”

The municipality has agreed to provide assistance to the student body by offering examination venues, internet access, food, safety and security among others, should lectures resume.

SRC president Nicholas Nyati said he hoped with Trollip’s influence the concerns of various students could be addressed and the varsity could reopen.

Meanwhile, an online portal has been launched to enable students who say they remain unfunded despite qualifying for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme to speak out.