NMMU and Rhodes closed on Monday as #FeesMustFall enters second week

SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

Academic business will remain suspended at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth and at Rhodes University in Grahamstown as #FeesMustFall protests enter a second week.

The NMMU on Friday said that its efforts to try and resolve the crisis had been met with resistance from the protesting students, hence the decision to keep the university closed on Monday.

On Sunday night, Rhodes University students received SMS notifications from the university advising them that management had decided not to open the institution for academic business on Monday. The university encouraged students to be part of discussions that are expected to be held on Monday on campus to solve the crisis.

Meanwhile, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has called on all stakeholders to give the Presidential Commission, which was set up to look into fees for tertiary education, space to conclude its work.

Leading a media briefing of the Social Protection, Community and Human Development Cluster on Sunday, the Minister said universities were faced with serious challenges in terms of funding and that interventions were underway to deal with these challenges.

The briefing took place after a week of protests around the country under the banner #FeesMustFall, with students from several tertiary institutions raising concerns about the cost of education.

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande announced recently that universities will individually decide on the fee increases for the 2017 academic year not exceeding 8%.

He also announced that all National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) qualifying students, as well as the so-called “missing middle” students will experience a no fee increase in 2017, as government will pay for the adjustment.

Government is committed to finding the resources to support children of all poor, working and middle class families, with a household income of up to R600 000 per annum, while subsidy funding will cover the gap between the 2015 fee and the adjusted 2017 fee at their institution,” the Minister said.

On Sunday, Minister Motshekga said government’s immediate and pressing task is to ensure that it continues to improve access to post-school education and strengthen the quality of learning and teaching.

“We have made provisions which have been carefully considered and designed to address the challenges we face.

“We should give the Presidential Commission looking into the matter of fees to conclude its work,” she said.

She said following the announcement last year by President Jacob Zuma that fees for 2016 would go up by 0%, universities were currently faced with serious funding challenges. 

The Minister also said that at the same time, large numbers of South Africans are currently finding it difficult to access post-school education because of the financial challenges they as individuals or as families face.

She said government is aware of these challenges and takes them very seriously.

“Indeed, government remains firmly committed to progressively realise free post-school education for the poor and working class, as called for by our Constitution, and to assist middle class families who are unable to pay.

“Currently, our universities face an extremely difficult financial situation.

“The effects of last year’s moratorium on fee adjustments and the extra costs associated with insourcing have both added to these challenges,” she said.

–additional reporting SAnews.gov.za