UCT suspends classes as protests intensify
3 of SA's largest universities have now been been shut due to protests over increased tuition fees.
CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - Students at the University of Cape Town have called on Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande to stop universities from hiking their tuition fees.
The university suspended all classes due to ongoing protests.
The announcement was made a short while ago on Twitter:
All lectures, academic and other operations on UPPER, MIDDLE AND LOWER CAMPUS at UCT have been suspended for today. http://t.co/otKsTyu7bm
- UCT (@UCT_news) October 19, 2015
UCT management made the decision citing the safety of faculty and non-protesting students.
Students have blocked off all major routes entering the campus as they protest against a proposed 11 percent increase in tuition fees.
- EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) October 19, 2015
A student protester said she is looking out for future students.
"I am just making sure that when my brothers come to university, they won't have to pay R1 million."
Student leader Pam Dhlamini, says UCT management needs to consult with university-goers over the proposed fee increase.
Dhlamini says management turned her and fellow demonstrators away this morning, as they tried to arrange a meeting to discuss the matter.
She says government must now intervene. "We want the minister of higher education and training and the finance minister to do something."
This follows a week of demonstrations at Wits University by students opposed to the proposed 10.5 percent hike in fees.
A small group of protesting students have been locked out of the Bremner Building at UCT after demanding to speak to university officials.
But the large black gates are tightly shut, with security guards keeping a watchful eye over demonstrators.
Several months ago, students occupied the building as part of the Rhodes must fall campaign.
But not all students are behind the mass action. A student who studies at the institution says the protests are uncalled for.
"This is really annoying. There are some of us that have things to do on campus and some people need to write their exams. We have supplementary exams today, and tests and now these people are preventing us from doing this. We're not Wits, we're paying for quality at UCT."
Protests over rising tuition fees has spread to Wits and Rhodes University. Lectures at both institutions have been suspended.
Students at Rhodes University have this morning blocked all entrances to the university and are expected to meet with management today.
Management at Wits is also expected to report back to students this afternoon on a new proposed fee hike, after the varsity council members agreed with protesting students to suspend a 10,5 percent increase for next year.
Hundreds of students are expected to be at the Great Hall, but it's unclear if they'll agree with the decisions made by council.
Students want the university to scrap fee increases for next year, saying tertiary education should be accessible and another hike is simply not affordable.
While lectures have been cancelled today, they are expected to resume tomorrow.
It's understood the negotiation process will begin from scratch and the campus is now accessible.