After the meeting the SRC released a statement in which they highlighted their demands. The demands specifically pertaining to the discussion on fees were as follows:
• Moratorium on fee increments: “We will not engage any form of increment and call for private sectors, the biggest beneficiaries of graduates, to begin to play an active role in assisting with this demand. Students want to express that if the minister is to announce any fees related matter, he must begin to announce a decrease.”
• Free, quality, decolonised education now: “While the issue of fee increases might be resolved in the immediate term as we demand, the discussion about free higher education forces us to reopen a national debate that the student movement lost in the mid-1990s when transformation became reduced to a series of technocratic interventions, and the representation of different constituencies (or “stakeholders”) in institutional processes and structures increasingly began to dominate the discussions about and approaches to transformation.”
Minister of Higher education and training Dr Blade Nzimande is expected to make an announcement on fees by the end of this month.
In January this year, President Zuma appointed the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training to investigate the feasibility of free tertiary education. The commission is made up of Justice Jonathan Heher, Advocate Gregory Ally and attorney Leah Thabisile Khumalo.
The Commission initially had eight months to complete their work; however, they were given an extension to 30 June 2017 by President Zuma. The announcement was met with outrage on social media, with rumours going around that there would be another round of mass protests. The South African Union of Students (SAUS) announced last week that they were “disappointed by the slow pace of the commission”. However, SAUS slammed reports that they had called for mass protest action and stated that they had called for SRCs to host mass meetings at universities across the country.
In late 2015 students across the country rose up against the costs of tertiary education. In October 2015 President Jacob Zuma announced that there would be a 0% increase in tuition fees across the country.
Photo: Shen Scott