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‘The manner in which students are protesting is unacceptable’

Adam Habib says yesterday’s #FeesMustFall protests were unacceptable due to the disruption of registrations.

FILE. Wits University vice chancellor Adam Habib looks down during a third day of protests at the institution over proposed tuition fee increases on 16 October 2015. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The chair of Universities South Africa and Wits University Vice Chancellor Adam Habib says the manner in which students are protesting is not acceptable due to the disruption of registrations.

Yesterday, Wits suspended on campus registration after disruptions by the SRC and Wits #FeesMustFall-led protests.

Hundreds of first year students and parents who waited from early in the morning were forced to leave or register online or telephonically.

Habib says the demands of students are reasonable, but they should not inconvenience others.

"I don't think it's legitimate to stop the registration. I think the demand to bring down the cost of higher education is something the university has supported but I've also said the way we do so must be clever and thoughtful."

He says the university has also had plans to use a government bail-out to scrap so-called historic debt, but this is dangerous.

"They're saying the missing middle; those that do not qualify for this and they're saying wave the historic debt away, that comes to R109 million at Wits. If I was to wave that away, I would financially start bankrupting Wits."

WATCH: #FeesMustFall reloaded

NZIMANDE TO MEET WITH SRC LEADERS

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande is expected to meet SRC leaders from a number of institutions this week, to discuss issues affecting the sector.

Yesterday, Nzimande announced government's plans to provide financial support to students this academic year and assist in alleviating the debt of others.

His announcement coincided with the beginning of the 2016 installment of the #FeesMustFall campaign.

New students entering the higher education sector have been advised that universities aren't the only option available to them.

More than 166,000 learners from the matric class of 2015 have qualified for university entry.

While not all will make it to universities the department is again calling for the use of other post-school education programmes.

Nzimande says colleges' apprenticeships and other skills programmes are all viable options.

He says while there are still challenges with technical and vocational colleges, top performing programmes and institutions still exist.

"There are apprentices, many of whom become artisans and better employed, who are fixing aeroplanes at OR Tambo International Airport."

With funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) also made available for college studies, the department is urging prospective students to find their place in the higher education sector.

IN BRIEF

In October last year, students from universities all over the country embarked on mass protests calling for an end to tertiary institution fee increases.

The #FeesMustFall campaign then marched on the Union buildings where President Jacob Zuma announced all fee increases for 2016 would be scrapped.

Government is now working on a way forward in terms of scrapping university fees altogether.

Click here to watch EWN' s the year of the student feature.

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