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Wednesday, 21 October 2015 17:46

Varsities shut in mass protests

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Many universities around the country are on Wednesday closed following a national call for students to embark on mass action against university fee increments.


Blade Nzimande

Student movement SASCO earlier this week called on all students to embark on a nationwide protest and urged government to introduce a moratorium on fee increments across all universities and for Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande to introduce free education.

The University of Cape Town said it remained closed on Wednesday in response to the national call. In a statement, the university said the day will provide an opportunity for student protest, which must remain lawful and respect the rights of those who choose not to join the protest.

Other institutions that are closed today include Rhodes, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Tshwane University of Technology and Pretoria University.

WITS has suspended all university activities until next Monday, saying it recognises the need to allow time for the necessary negotiations to take place to resolve the current situation.

“In order to ensure the safety and security of our staff and students, the executive management has decided to suspend all university activities for the remainder of this week. This applies to all staff (academic, professional, support and administrative) and students.

“The university encourages students to use this time productively to prepare for their examinations,” said Wits.

It however reminded students that any protests that take place off campus are out of the university’s control and that the university has no influence over how the South African Police Service (SAPS) may deal with situations that occur in public areas.

The hashtag #NationalShutDown has been trending as students and media post updates on the situation on social media.

This comes after Minister Nzimande on Tuesday convened an urgent meeting with higher education stakeholders to discuss and come up with a common framework and approach to the university fee increases for 2016.

At the end of the meeting, held in Cape Town, stakeholders agreed to encourage their respective constituencies to engage in institutional negotiations at universities with a view to achieve a fee increase of not higher than a CPI-related increase of 6% for 2016.

The department will partner institutions to enable this process by providing financial support in this regard.