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South Africa

But there were no signs that the protests would come to an end soon as no solution has been found.

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South Africa
The protests culminated at almost all major universities as thousands of students gathered on campuses, demanding that the universities scrap their plans to increase tuition fees.

Both Rhodes University and University of Cape Town (UCT) suspended all classes, while Witwatersrand University students were still waiting for a feedback from the management.

At Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, students blocked all entrances to the campuses the whole day. The management spend the whole morning in marathon meetings with student representatives to seek a solution to the crisis resulting from the university’s plan to raise tuition fees by 10.5 percent.

Students were staging a sit in, saying they would not leave until their demands were met.

“Due to the ongoing protests, and concerns for the health and safety of our staff and students, it has been decided that the academic project will be suspended for Tuesday, 20 October 2015. The suspension will be reviewed depending on further developments,” the university announced.

“We will continue to communicate with staff and students, and we will issue a notification regarding the resumption of the academic project as soon as circumstances allow,” it said.

Council and management remain committed to finding an amicable resolution and are willing to engage student leadership to facilitate a solution, Witwatersrand University spokesperson Shirona Patel told Xinhua.

However, students are urged not to congregate in the Senate House Concourse, for health and safety reasons, Patel said.

The Senate House Concourse, a university facility, was stormed by students last week.

At Rhodes University in the Western Cape Province, Student Representative Council President, Zikisa Maqubela said protesters were demanding lower fees and a cut to the proposed 50-percent increase in the initial minimum payment, which they described as “exclusionary fees”.

“The protest is about the minimum initial payment. The students are saying it’s too high and they cannot afford it. The students are shutting down the university. We’ve barricaded all entrances to the university, so nobody can get in,”Maqubela told reporters.

He said the students are not asking the institution to do away with the initial minimum payment but rather decrease the amount.

The situation is so bad that there seems to be no mechanisms to deal with it, but in fact there are mechanisms in place, Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande told reporters in Pretoria.

“I have been assured by all vice-chancellors that they are willing to engage students on the matter,” he said.
“It is a challenge, but I wouldn’t call it a crisis. I am very sympathetic to what the students are saying. We are aware that university education is expensive and that something needs to be done,” Nzimande said, while acknowledging that fees at South African universities were exorbitant.

There were also reports of protests at Stellenbosch University and the University of Fort Hare. Students at the university of Pretoria students plan to stage a protest on Wednesday.

Stellenbosch University management said it would continue to talk to students over fee increases.
“The university has undertaken to provide the student representative council, in addition to the meetings and discussions already held, with a written explanation of reasons why an increase of 11.5 percent in study fees for 2016 is essential,” the university said in a statement.

As the demonstrations continued, education experts said universities should take into consideration the plight of poor students when they plan fee hikes.

“Decoloniality is inspiring revolutions. We should support the innovative youth for real transformation,” said Gwinyayi Dzinesa, an international relations lecturer at Rhodes University. Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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