Higher education committee concerned by fees crisis

2016-09-29 21:29
Wits University was brought a standstill after the announcement of an increase in tuition fees for the 2016 study year. (Elizabeth Sejake)

Wits University was brought a standstill after the announcement of an increase in tuition fees for the 2016 study year. (Elizabeth Sejake)

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2016-09-23 16:58

Student protests over a fee hike in 2017 are in their fifth day running.WATCH

Johannesburg – The parliamentary committee on higher education and training on Thursday called for "more dialogue" on the university fees crisis.

"Solutions are best found through dialogue and not through rubber bullets. The committee is concerned about the loss of life as a result of the protests [and] the number of injuries and trail of damage to property which is the most needed infrastructure," chairperson of the committee Connie September said.

According to September, universities couldn't plan or implement catch-up programmes to "salvage what is left of the year" because of protests.

"The committee is very concerned about this crisis. Even more concerning is the amount of money that will be spent on repairs and refurbishments, money that could have been used to afford more students an opportunity to study at a university," she said.

Student protests swept across the country following Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande's announcement that university councils could increase fees, but not beyond 8%.

September said democracy in South Africa was brought about through dialogue and that it was needed again.

'South Africa needs graduates'

"Students, parents, academia and all interested parties should be given a voice through dialogue. We want to know from government, based on its analysis and evidence, who must take responsibility to repair damages to infrastructure."

She added: "South Africa's economy needs graduates and thus all parties must salvage what is left of the academic year and that should be balanced with the demands of students".

She said the higher education committee welcomed any steps that would take the country in the "direction of resolving these matters". She added that communities needed to be involved in resolving the issue.

September said Parliament would intensify its oversight role on a stabilisation programme and future finance organisation for the entire higher education sector.

"Government has increased access to higher education by not only opening up technical, vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, but also providing funding even for the missing middle," she said.

Read more on:    university fees  |  university protests

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