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Reports that 77% of Wits students voted for campus to reopen are incorrect

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Students from the University of Witwatersrand protest for free higher education in Johannesburg on September 23, 2016. Photo: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP University of the Witwatersrand students protest for free higher education in Johannesburg on September 23, 2016. Photo: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP

The University of the Witwatersrand polled its students last Thursday following a two-week shutdown of the university due to protests for free higher education.

An SMS sent to the university’s 37,000 students asked: “Should Wits open on Mon 3 Oct subject to appropriate security protocols being in place?”

The interim results showed that of the 21,730 students who responded to the poll, 16,739 students (77%) voted “Yes” and 4,991 students (23%) voted “No”.

The poll was audited by auditing firm SizweNtsalubaGobodo.

Reports that “77% of Wits students” want to return to class today, as stated in headlines by eNCA, ANN7, The New Age, The Mail and Guardian and the SABC, are therefore incorrect.

The headlines should have stated that 77% of students who responded to the poll voted for the university to reopen. When calculated as a percentage of the student body as a whole, 45% of students voted for the university to reopen and 13% of students voted for the university to remain closed. The remaining students did not respond to the poll. - 03/10/2016

(Note: this spot check was updated on 4 October to include the percentage of the student body that voted "no".)


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