The latest spate of violence at universities “is of grave concern” to the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Committee Chairperson Yvonne Phosa said.
But she did not identify the “political formations” that were behind the recent spate of violence at some major universities.
Student leaders belonging to the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) reportedly led some protests.
“The academic year is supposed to be in full swing, yet universities are bogged down by governance and operational issues. It’s almost at the end of the first term but the environment is not conducive for learning in many of our universities, and that is of concern,”Phosa said.
She was speaking as student protests turned violent at the North West University, University of Free State, University of Pretoria and the University of Cape Town.
Students were protesting for various reasons ranging from accommodation shortage, outsourcing and language policy. In some instances, students destroyed public properties and burned buildings.
Some protests have enhanced racial tensions between black and white students.
At the University of Free State, for example, black students and workers who were disrupting a rugby match were attacked by white students on Monday.
Protest at the University of Pretoria spilled out of campus when protesters torched a Metrorail train and attacked rail workers.
“It is unfortunate that this is happening when government has undertaken to increase access to tertiary education for poor and students who cannot afford. The future is not about throwing petrol bombs or burning down university property, but using universities constructively in empowering students and subsequently the nation,” she said.