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Zuma convenes meeting with student, university leaders

Thousands of students have gathered on the lawn below the Union Buildings.

Students made their way to the Union Buildings during the Fees Must Fall protest on Friday 23 October 2015. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

PRETORIA - The meeting between President Jacob Zuma and students leaders from around the country has started as thousands of students gather on the lawn below the Union Buildings.

Zuma has convened the meeting with student leaders and university management over the fee crisis.

#FeesMustFall #UBs the meeting with President Zuma has started. BB pic.twitter.com/FKVeXwU0Q3

Student leaders from various organisations including Sasco, Daso and the EFF took up seating alongside university vice chancellors and chairpersons of councils.

Before the meeting started, members of the ANC Youth League and the Young Communist League were seen leaving the venue. It's unclear why they left, but it appears their presence was not welcome.

#FeesMustFall #UnionBuildings Smoke coming near the fence where students had earlier tried to break through .ZN pic.twitter.com/RW8KRotCyz

Zuma hopes to find a solution to the current impasse, and with exams on the horizon there is urgency to calm tensions so students can prepare.

The president has previously reiterated that government fully understood the pressure and difficulties that students from poor households and the working class faced with regards to high university fees.

He and student and university leaders are expected to brief the media after the meeting.

LISTEN: EWN gives an update on Zuma's meeting.

PARENTS ALSO JOIN MARCH

Herman Burgher, whose son attends the University of Pretoria, has also joined the march.

He says he wasn't part of the 1976 Soweto uprising but is here today because he realises what the students are trying to achieve.

Students from Wits have just arrived and are now waiting to be addressed but it's not clear if and when that will happen.

OVER 12,000 TAKE PART IN MARCH

The protest at the Union Buildings continues to gain momentum and the crowd has now swelled to more than 12,000 students.

Nzimande has received scathing criticism from the students who say he should be fired.

#FeesMustFall Some students are now burning the temporary toilets and throwing stones at police. CE pic.twitter.com/CMDEV3n5vS

Meanwhile, Lawyers for Human Rights member David Cote says they're present to ensure students aren't harassed by police.

The atmosphere is electric and large groups of students are continuing to arrive.