PRETORIA. — Students at the University of the Free State Main Campus have shut down the institution following Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande Blade Nzimande’s eight percent recommendation on the 2017 university fees. Protests at some universities, including Witwatersrand, University of Cape Town and University of Pretoria, began after he had made his announcement.At UFS students were kicked out of exam halls, as well as the library, by other protesting students.
Justifying the move, which goes against the #FeesMustFall protests that affected South Africa’s tertiary institutions since mid-October 2015, minister Nzimande told reporters yesterday: “We have looked at the challenges at hand from all sides and have concluded that the best approach would be to allow universities individually to determine the level of increase that their institutions will require.
“With the caution that this has to also take into account affordability of students and therefore has to be transparent, reasonable and related to inflation-linked adjustments, our recommendation is that the fee adjustments should not go above eight percent.”
Minister Nzimande said he consulted with various stakeholders regarding what would be the best way to handle the situation. He said to ensure that such inflation-linked fee adjustments of the 2015 fee baseline are affordable to financially needy students, government has committed to finding the resources to support all students.
He said they would assist households with an income of up to R600 000 per annum with subsidy funding to cover the gap between the 2015 fee and adjusted 2017 fee at the relevant institutions.
“This will be done for fee increments up to eight percent,” he said.
Meanwhile, the University of Cape Town on Sunday announced that classes, lectures and tests would be suspended temporarily.
“The University of Cape Town has temporarily suspended classes, lectures and tests on Monday, 19 September 2016 (yesterday) after consultations with various stakeholders,” spokesperson Kylie Hatton said.
According to Hatton, the university executive “made the difficult decision to suspend classes” after consulting with different stakeholders.
Hatton said that UCT libraries, including its 24 /7 study area, would also be closed.
However, Hatton further stated that health science faculty students based in hospitals and clinical service “should still attend to their responsibilities”.
Hatton added: “The university remains open, however, and all staff are requested to come to work.
“The security situation will be assessed throughout the course of the day and if it changes, you will be advised.
“If staff experience disruption or intimidation, they are requested to please engage with their line manager.”
Hatton said the universities vice chancellor would further communicate to the camps community.
“Updates will be available on the UCT website and UCT’s Facebook and Twitter platforms. Please note that the situation is changing constantly and we request everyone to monitor these platforms for regular updates.”
Students at the University of the Witwatersrand were divided on the way forward following Minister Blade Nzimande’s announcement of an eight percent cap on fee increases, with some calling for an immediate shutdown of the institution.
Students gathered at the institution’s Senate House, which was renamed Solomon Mahlangu House during #FeesMustFall protests last year, are consulting on a way forward, with some suggesting a plan to empty out classes and shut down the campus.
Wits deputy SRC president Motheo Brody told News24 that student leaders will do whatever the students request.
“We will take our lead from the students, but one thing is for sure, Nzimande’s suggestion is not acceptable.”
Other students refused to protest.
“Last year I put my body on the line protesting against fees. I will not do that for a zero percent increase,” student activist Simamkele Dlakavu said. — News24/EWN/HR.