Students in South Africa are demanding that the government scrap all university fees and if this does not happen they have threatened to shut down all institutions of higher education.
“We are going to shut down all institutions until management hears that we don’t want fees,” Sthembiso Ndlovu, South African Students Congress (Sasco) Gauteng deputy chairperson said.
“We believe that this is the only vehicle to achieve free education in our lifetime. Most of the institutions, excluding the University of Johannesburg and the Vaal University, have confirmed that they will be in solidarity with us,” Ndlovu continued.
Ndlovu stated that the decision to shut down all intuitions was due to the proposed increase of fees by 17 percent at the Tshwane University of Technology, 40 percent at the University of Pretoria and 10.5 percent at the University of Witwatersrand.
He declared that Sasco are saying no to any form of university fee increment and will continue to protest unless things are changed.
On Monday Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said that the he would not call the situation a national crisis and could be resolved. Continues to say that he was sympathetic to the students saying that he is aware that education is expensive and something needs to be changed.
Ndlovu lashed out at Nzimande for claiming that the situation is not a crisis. However, according to the Higher Education Minister a crisis implied that the issue is so bad that there is no mechanism by which it may be dealt with. He believes that in this case there are ways to deal with the situation saying that each institution’s vice-chancellor have promised to work with their students.
Product specialist at PPS, Motshabi Nomvethe said on Tuesday that the “Government must recognise the value of generating skilled professionals to ensure key skills – such as medical doctors, engineers and lawyers – are developed and retained in the country. It is time for the government to look for ways to increase its funding to universities.”
Whilst the situation may not be described as crisis by some it is most definitely a cause for concern. Currently, more than 60 percent of South African students who took part in the 2015 PPS Student Confidence Index (SCI) expressed that the believe the cost of tertiary education is too high in South Africa.