JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Chanting protesters, including medical students with stethoscopes around their necks, demonstrated against planned increases in tuition fees at a number of top South African universities on Monday, blocking roads and entrances and causing the suspension of classes on some campuses.
“No to fee increase!” screamed students during a rally at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, the African News Agency reported. It said the university suspended a proposed hike of 10.5 percent in tuition fees for next year after several days of protests, and that talks on the fees will start again.
In a statement, the university, also known as Wits, said it recognized the burden of higher education costs on students and their families, citing a decline in state subsidies and high increases in the cost of infrastructure and utilities, as well as the depreciation of the South African currency. Wits said it would consider austerity measures and other ways to ease financial pressure on students.
Students who say they can’t afford proposed fee increases staged similar protests at the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University and Rhodes University, reported the African News Agency, which is based in South Africa.
The University of Cape Town said it had suspended all lectures and other operations on Monday after protesters blocked roads to the campus, preventing staff and students from getting to classes or workplaces. It said in a statement that it respected the right to protest but described the demonstrators’ actions as “unlawful.”
CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press
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