Wits SRC vows to protest against 8% fee increase

2016-12-06 17:21
Wits students protest the curfew imposed. (News24)

Wits students protest the curfew imposed. (News24)

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Johannesburg - The University of the Witwatersrand SRC on Tuesday said it rejected the 8% fee increase and would mobilise students to protest against it in January.  

"We obviously need to challenge the 8% increase as it will deny access to students," Student Representative Council president Kefentse Mkhari said.

"What guarantee is there that those currently studying here, who already have student debt, will be able to return to study next year, with an 8% increase?"

He said the university’s decision to announce the increase on Monday had been "tactical", as most students had already gone home.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced on September 19 that universities could determine their own fee increases for 2017, but that they could not exceed 8%. Students from households with an annual income of up to R600 000 would not have to pay the increases.

Legislation should be used to force corporate South Africa to help fund free education, Mkhari said.

"We understand that government is ultimately responsible for free education. The university is but a small fish in the pond. It is our collective duty as students to put pressure on government to realise free education. We should go door-to-door to make people understand."

The university said on Monday that it was providing financial help for 22 000 out of 37 000 students. It was facing a R56.5m deficit, despite the 8% fee increase.

"It is unsustainable to continue with a 0% increase. The insourcing that will start from the first of January already costs the university an additional R100m to R120m," spokesperson Shirona Patel said.

"We tried our best to cut non-academic budgets such as support services."

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