Metro police monitoring Wits University protest

2015-10-14 11:32

Johannesburg - Metro police are monitoring a protest by Wits University students outside the institution's gates on Wednesday morning.

Students were protesting about fee increases along with other matters.

"Because of them being at the entrance of the university, that caused the traffic to slow up, but Johannesburg metro police have arrived. They've managed to control it and make sure traffic flows," JMPD spokesperson Inspector Edna Mamonyane said.

"The students are still there and the university hasn't opened the gates."

She said the entrance most affected is the one opposite the M1 turn-off that meets Empire Road.

Wits University spokesperson Shirona Patel was not immediately available for comment as she was in a meeting.

The university's chief financial officer Linda Jarvis, in a statement issued on Thursday morning, said since the fee increases were released, her office has been inundated with requests for information regarding why the increases were necessary.

Reasons for fee increase

She said some of the key reasons were:

- The rand-dollar exchange rate has fallen by approximately 22%, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the amount of money that paid for all library books, journals, electronic resources research equipment that are procured in dollars and euros.

- Salary increases for academics are set at 7% based on a three-year cycle and these increases are necessary to ensure that we retain the best intellectual minds in the country.

- Generic inflation is hovering at around 6% which impacts on all other expenses that the university has to cover.

- Utilities are increasing at rates substantially higher than the inflation rate.

Quality of academic project could be at risk

She said the subsidy increase from government was expected to come in at around 5%.

"The net effect is that we have to make up our income to cover our expenditure in order to remain sustainable," Jarvis said.

"If we do not do so, we put the quality of our academic project at risk."

The university was mindful of the current economic climate and the financial strain on students and families.

In light of this, and "following extensive consultations with the SRC and other university structures",

Wits reduced the average 2016 tuition fee from 11% to 10.5%, with the upfront fee increase also reduced to 6% from 10%.

"Even though two-thirds [about 20 000] of our students are on bursaries, scholarships and financial aid, we are cognisant of the pressure that this places on parents and caregivers of those who have to pay their own way," Jarvis said.

"These increases are unfortunately unavoidable but we are doing all that we can, especially at the national level to look at long-term solutions to resolve the issue of student funding."

People took to Twitter to make their feelings on the protest clear.

Read more on:    wits university  |  johannesburg  |  education  |  university fees  |  protests

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