Open Stellenbosch to fight proposed tuition fee hike

The SRC held a meeting to discuss the proposed 11.5 percent increase.

FILE: Members of Sasco march towards Stellenbosch University's campus to deliver a memorandum on transformation during a protest. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Student activist group, Open Stellenbosch, says it will not take a proposed tuition fee hike at Maties lying down.

The Student Representative Council held a meeting on Thursday to discuss the proposed 11.5 percent increase.

Open Stellenbosch's, Majaletje Mathume says, "It's not about us who're already here. A lot of people cannot afford to come to this university. So the problem here is that we don't think the inability to pay should hinder people's opportunity to get access to higher education."

WITS UNIVERSITY

At the same time, students at Wits University have accused police of using excessive force while attempting to disperse their protest.

The institution is looking to implement a 10,5 percent hike and the students are demanding that the fee increases be reviewed.

The SRC has posted videos on its social media pages of police forcibly removing a small group of students from a university entrance they had blocked.

Students say they won't be intimidated by the presence of police.

SRC member Shaeera Kalla says police used unnecessary force on students who were studying at the university entrance on Wednesday night.

"A student was actually choked by one of the police officers and there was a girl who was picked up and thrown around."

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies based at the university has opposed what it says is a disproportionate use of violence and says it's unfortunate that students have been portrayed as aggressive.

Police were unavailable for comment.

Police and campus security will continue monitoring the situation this morning.

Student Sipho Mokwena says tertiary education needs to be accessible to all and they want to address the varsity's vice chancellor on the issue.

"This is something we cannot tolerate, a situation where management doesn't want to meet with students, it is something the students are against. It doesn't matter whether they are bursary students or NSFAS students the fact is we cannot commecialise education."

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HABIB TO ADDRESS STUDENTS

The protesting students say they won't stand down until they are addressed by vice chancellor Adam Habib.

Habib has been involved in a series of discussions on transformation, funding and other issues at a higher education summit in KwaZulu-Natal this week.

University spokesperson Shirona Patel said Habib is working to make his way back to the troubled institution as soon as possible.

"They are demanding that the vice chancellor come back and address them. He has been trying to get a flight and will meet with students as soon as he can."

Officials have suspended lectures until Monday and advised students to avoid campus.

Kalla says those who claim to have been inconvenienced by the protest should join the movement to help their peers.

"We take that it as a disruption, but a protest is meant to disrupt. As a fellow student you need to question yourself if you are not joining in on this protest."

Meanwhile, the university says it won't sit back if the lives of staff and non-participating students are endangered.