Opposition rejects Minister’s 6% fee cap as protests widen


The Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have slammed Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s proposed blanket six percent increase in university fees for 2016, as undermining the rights of students.

At a press conference in Cape Town yesterday, Nzimande, flanked by a number of university Vice-Chancellors, said the agreement was made after careful consideration with department stakeholders.

“[They have] agreed to encourage their respective constituencies to engage in negotiations at universities with a view to achieve a fee increase of not higher than a Consumer Price Index (CPI) related increase of 6% for 2016,” the SABC quoted him as saying.

Speaking in a statement, DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education, Belinda Bozzoli, said the imposed cap would have little effect in recouping the R51-billion NSFAS shortfall.

“Until we deal decisively with these problems, universities, and ultimately students, will continue to suffer as a result,” Bozzoli said.

“Government must prioritise further education as a matter of urgency. We cannot tolerate the financial exclusion of young people and the effect his has on their chance to pursue a life of value”.

In a similar reaction, EFF National Spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, described the cap as “undemocratic”, adding that it was decided upon without the input from students.

“The fee situation that students are raising is a reflection that the neoliberal macroeconomic policies that have shaped higher education funding have failed,” Ndlozi said.

“Students demand no fee increment, not some fee increment and they are justified to make this demand. Education must never be a commodity in the first place. It must be treated with the same respect as the right to life”.

In the latest development, police at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth were forced to use rubber bullets and tear gas after students blocked off the main North and South Campus entry routes.

According to Eyewitness News, protest have so far broken out at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Rhodes University, the Buffalo City and Mthatha Campuses of the Walter Sisulu University, University of Cape Town, Free State University, University of Pretoria, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, Tshwane University of Technology, the Potchefstroom Campus of the North West University, University of Stellenbosch, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Central University of Technology and Eastern Cape Midlands College, as well as the 11 Agricultural Colleges across the country.



Rubber bullets fly as NMMU students protest fee increases