University of Maryland students, protesting the school's investments in companies doing business in South Africa, staged a silent protest yesterday at a meeting of the Board of Regents and said they had no plans to remove a shanty erected this week on the front lawn of university President John S. Toll.

"We're planning to leave it there to test Toll," said Mary Battenfeld, a spokesman for the University of Maryland Divestment Coalition.

Students said they erected the shanty at Toll's state-owned residence to force the president and members of the governing board to address the issue of divesting $8.3 million of university funds from companies doing business in South Africa.

University officials declined this year to take up the policy adopted in 1985 in which the university invests only in companies operating under a voluntary code of conduct that guarantees blacks equitable treatment in hiring, pay and promotions.

The regents have declined to discuss divestment at public meetings this year and did so again yesterday as a half-dozen students stood silently holding placards condemining the investment policy.

Toll was unavailable for comment.

Students erected the shanty Thursday and seven of them spent the night in it. A similar incident last year sparked a confrontation when police tried to evict students living in a shanty erected on the College Park campus. In April, students were granted permission to erect another shanty on the campus as long as no one tried to occupy it. Students reportedly did not spend the night and no confrontation ensued.

Yesterday, a university spokesman said the school had not given the students permission to erect the shanty at the president's residence but have no plans to confront them or demolish the structure.