#FeesMustFall: University students react to Nzimande’s statement

uct feesmustfall2016 nzimande ian barbour flickr

Update #4, 18 September, 3.27pm: In the wake of the student protests on South Africa’s various university campuses, UCT’s Faculty of Health Science has announced that it plans to march to Parliament on Thursday, 22 September, to hand over its memorandum to Blade Nzimande.

The Faculty has also called on “colleagues, students and concerned citizens” to join. It has also asked academics to dress in “full academic dress”.

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Update #3, 18 September, 2.47pm: The University of Pretoria has now also joined the protests, according to Twitter sources.

At UCT’s meeting, a memorandum has been issued.

Finally, Wits University has issued a statement on Twitter, explaining that the institution will “analyse these [recommendations from Nzimande] and will consult with relevant University stakeholders”. The first of eight tweets, can be found below.

Update #2, 18 September, 1.41pm: Students at the University of the Free State have also joined in the countrywide demonstrations. A new hashtag #Fees2017, has also began trending on Twitter in South Africa.

In Cape Town, the M3’s southbound traffic to UCT from the city centre has been brough to a standstill, as students march along the road. UCT staff and students are currently meeting in Marikana Memorial/Jameson Hall.

Update #1, 18 September, 12.29pm: Some UCT students are reportedly making their way down to Cape Town’s Main Road in the suburb of Mowbray, after Nzimande’s press conference in Pretoria. Police helicopters have also been spotted in the area, according to reports.

Students at Wits University have also began moving to West Campus, to demonstrate against the announcement.

Original article: South Africa’s Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, has announced that universities are now responsible for the fee increases they issue at their institutions. This comes after an announcement made Monday morning by the minister in Pretoria.

According to Nzimande, fee adjustments should not go up by 8%, but the increases issued will be covered for those of lower-income brackets (the “missing middle”), or NSFAS students.

“Everything is more expensive today than it was this time last year. That is the reality of inflation,” he explained at the press conference.

You can read the full transcript courtesy of Times Live here.

The original Wits statement

The announcement comes after Wits University’s SRC issued a statement on Twitter using the hashtag #FeesMustFall2016. The SRC noted that “the access to education remains highly restricted”.

“Our demands are clear: the realisation of a free, decolonised and quality education as well as a moratorium on fee increments up until the implementation of free education,” the statement continues.

The SRC also referenced last year’s #FeesMustFall movement, which culminated in a standoff at Pretoria’s Union Buildings in October 2015.

#FeesMustFall: 43 powerful photos from South Africa’s student protests

University students from at least three of South Africa’s major universities are currently engaged in mass protests around academic fees, with social media spreading their grievances to a much wider audience. Read more…

Universities on alert

Prior to the announcement, universities across South Africa were placed on alert, with some suspending lectures and operations today.

Nzimande: universities will now decide fee increases based on inflation and other factors, but may not exceed 8%

The University of Cape Town tweeted that it has cancelled lectures, as students barricaded the entrance to the institution’s upper campus.

Stellenbosch University and Rhodes University however, both remain operational.

After the announcement, students took to Twitter to air their views, through 140 characters, and video.

When asked for a response about the reaction at Wits Univeristy, Nzimande explained: “Government is supporting students from all backgrounds. There’s no free education for anyone.”

Search traffic has been remarkably bumpy, according to Google Search Trends. Blade Nzimande was the most searched of the listed terms today, while UCT remains a prominent keyword. “Wits” rather than “Wits University” is also on the rise, amid the demonstrations at the institution.

Stay with us for updates from social media as the story develops through the course of the day.

Feature image: Ian Barbour via Flickr

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