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Blade passes the bucks

Wits University students have embarked on a shutdown of the institution after the Minister of Higher Education failed to announce free education at a press conference earlier this morning.

Minister Blade Nzimande said universities needed to determine their own fee increases but added that this increase should be capped at 8%.

Nzimande added that government will absorb the cost of the increase of the “missing middle” and students on the NSFAS scheme and anticipates that this coverage will cost approximately R6,5-R6,6 billion. According to Nzimande, the “missing middle” refers to households earning less than R600 000 per annum.

Responding to comments about potential protests at campuses around the country, Nzimande said that higher education is not free and that a moratorium on fees “means you are campaigning for the rich”. Nzimande says that those who can afford to pay for tertiary education adding that government was unclear on how parents can send their children to private schools and yet expect to have their tertiary education subsidised.

Responding to the announcement by the minister, incoming SRC president Kefentse Mkhari told a gathering in Solomon Mahlangu House: “Basically what the minister is saying is that there will be a fee increase so the university must shutdown.”

The official shutdown is set to start tomorrow as protest leaders move from venue to venue to gather more students. Wits vice chancellor Professor Adam Habib told Wits Vuvuzela that is currently overseas in New York at a UN General Assembly for the launch of HEforSHE campaign. Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said: We will consult with stakeholders and make further comment afterwards.

Originally published on Wits Vuvuzela: http://witsvuvuzela.com/2016/09/19/blade-passes-the-bucks/

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Wits SRC threatens to “take it to the streets” over unfavourable fee announcement

Wits SRC has announced plans to shut down the campus under the banner of #FessMustFall2016 should the Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande announce a fee increase at a highly-anticipated press conference later today.

Secretary General Fasiha Hassan said the SRC has invited students to gather at Solomon Mahlangu House, (Senate House), to watch the minister’s announcement about the recommendations of the Fees Commission. It is expected that Nzimande will definitively answer the questions around possible fee increases.

Hassan said if today’s announcement was unfavourable, “we will have to do what we did last year that is take to the streets”.

In a statement released a short while ago, Wits University says that “security has been strengthened and the police is on standby this week. We remind all colleagues and students that an interdict remains in place to protect staff, students and University property”.

Hassan says today’s gathering will also address the issue “that the focus cannot be on a fee increment but rather on free education”, a point missed by the government and universities.

The SRC noted that the anniversary of the 2015 FeesMustFall protest is drawing closer and yet the implementation of their demands has been slow and half-hearted.

“We have not been taken seriously, it’s as if we have not been heard,” said Hassan.

Wits EEF Student Command chairperson Koketso Poho said if it came to it Wits EFF were ready for a shutdown.

“But it will not be on the basis of a fee increment but on the basis of free education” he said.

At a townhall meeting with students in August Wits Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Habib said Universities South Africa (USAf) had told the higher education ministry that they needed an additional 8% income. “That doesn’t necessarily mean a fees income. We hope that 8% could come from government subsidies,” said Habib.

Originally published on Wits Vuvuzela: http://witsvuvuzela.com/2016/09/19/wits-src-threatens-to-take-it-to-the-streets-over-unfavourable-fee-announcement/