The Council on Higher Education has recommended an across-the-board fee increase at the level of the consumer-price index in a report submitted to Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande. According to the report, a 0% increase is “unsustainable” and the Council has suggested that universities agree on a uniform increase in fees for 2017.
UP released a statement earlier today regarding the commission, stating that it had made its submission to the commission on 11 August. According to the statement, the university has taken note of various groups’ intentions to protest should the Department of Higher Education and Training announce a fee increase. The statement adds that “while the university supports the right to peaceful protest, violent and unlawful action will not be tolerated.”
According to the statement, “The safety of students, staff and property takes priority at this and at all times. To this end, the University of Pretoria has strict security measures and a court interdict in place. The disruption of the normal functioning of university operations, including academic activities, and any violent behaviour will not be tolerated. The university reserves the right to take preventative action in response to threats of violence to any student, staff member or property of the University.”
Students should also take note that the Prospect Street entrance to the Hatfield campus will be closed until further notice due to urgent maintenance.
Speaking to Perdeby, SRC interim chairperson and deputy secretary Thabo Shingange said that the purpose of the mass meeting was to discuss the issue of fees, to engage with students, and to get a mandate from the students regarding future action, adding, “You can’t as an SRC say you are leading students having not engaged [with] students.” According to Shingange, “The issue of [a] fee increment is not the issue, per-se. The issue is the failure of the state to define who must be exempt from it, taking into consideration the missing middle and who must pay.” He added, “We are saying we want free education. We demand free education for the poor but the state has failed to define the poor, taking into consideration the missing middle category.” Other issues that will be addressed at the meeting include the issue of students having run out of money for food on their student cards, a discussion regarding the rewriting of the Constitution for Student Governance, the SRC’s position regarding e-voting (which the SRC is against), and the SRC elections.
Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the SRC president spoke to Perdeby on the purpose of the mass meeting. Shingange is in fact the SRC interim chairperson and deputy secretary. We apologise for any confusion caused.