Students weigh up response to fees decision

JOHANNESBURG – Students at various campuses are deciding on the way forward following government's recommendations for fee increases for 2017.

On Monday, Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande's announcement on fees was met with anger and defiance at many campuses around the country.

Students repeated their call for free education and their disappointment that Nzimande was leaving it to universities to decided on how much fees would increase.

Wits students met to discuss his recommendations, after blocking entrances to the Johannesburg campus, calling for a shut down.

Students at the University of Cape Town (UCT), University of Free State (UFS) and University of Pretoria (UP) also rejected the fee recommendations.

The UCT student representative council called on President Jacob Zuma to intervene in the matter .

“We call upon the President of the Republic [Jacob Zuma] to change the mandate of the Presidential Commission from a question of ‘feasibility’ to that of ‘How do we implement Free Higher Education’. The current lens of the Commission does not ensure a clear commitment from the state to the realisation of greater access to higher education but allows for a way out which may result in the poor, Black child waning,” it said in statement.

UCT has vowed to join other universities in mass action.

“If the president continues to ignore this call, we will join others to rally for mass action and take our battle to the foot of Parliament, National Treasury and the Union Buildings,” UCT said.

One student, Mlingani Matiwane, said: "We have to start having serious meetings on free education versus the meetings we're having now, which are deciding the decimals of how much percentages or increases of decreases should be."

But Nzimande said all stakeholders, including student leaders, had been consulted about the decision to cap fee hikes at eight percent so there was no need for the threatened protests.. 

“There’s absolutely no reason for any shutdown of any university. Those who are actually doing that are possibly ... having their own political agendas {and are] using legitimate student struggles.

"We are on the same side with students as government. That is why we are doing what we are doing ... Because we actually consulted intensively out of the process.=," he said.

The UP SRC said it would meet the university's management before the end of September to address Nzimande's recommendations.

The SRC said it did not support disruptions on campus.

UFS has rejected Nzimande's recommendations.

“The SRC stands firmly that the fees must not increase at all. We are calling for a 0% fee increment,” UFS said in a statement.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal strengthened security on campuses and the academic programme resumed on Monday, after protest last week.



Source:  eNCA

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