Cape Town - Government has not appreciated the urgent need to fix funding problems in the higher education sector, UCT vice-chancellor Max Price said on Wednesday.
"The problem we are dealing with is one only government can fix. Universities can't fix it on their own," he said outside Parliament.
Price was part of a large group of academics, parents, and university staff who handed over a memorandum demanding that universities and students be adequately funded.
He said government had planned to fix the sector, but its fees commission was taking a year-and-a-half, and policies would take a few years to draw up and implement.
Students and staff did not trust these processes and could not wait for years on end. The country's biggest challenge was youth unemployment, Price said.
"The economy has shifted from being a non-skilled, labour-intensive economy, to being a much more technical job and knowledge economy."
Price felt protesting students did not see a future. They had looked for a job for a few years and given up. Not even their families could support them.
"What do people do? They're desperate. When you're hopeless then you don't have a stake in society. You don't have a stake in peacefulness. You just have to survive."