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Higher Education Ministry calls for calm amid fees hike debates

Mduduzi Manana made the appeal during a debate on university funding in the National Assembly yesterday.

Students disrupt Fees Commission hearing in Cape Town. Picture: Xolani Koyana/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Higher Education Ministry has called for calm as the inquiry into the feasibility of free tertiary education continues its work.

Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana made the appeal during a debate on university funding in the National Assembly yesterday.

This week protests erupted at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Manana says government is striving towards a long-term solution for free tertiary education for poor students.

Some parliamentarians harshly criticised government's approach to Higher Education - among them the DA's Yusuf Cassim.

Cassim called has called government's subsidies for higher education institutions "embarrassingly low".

This week, activist group Black Solidarity Action labelled the university Fees Commission a "useless exercise".

Public hearings were held in Cape Town this week where officials from the University of Western Cape, University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University made submissions.

At the same time, the commission has vowed to bolster security at future hearings following disruptions yesterday. The commission, which held its second day of public hearings at the Centre for the Book yesterday, had to suspend the process after UCT vice chancellor Max Price was confronted by angry students.

Last week, hearings in East London were briefly suspended following similar interruptions by Fort Hare students.

Commission spokesperson Andile Tshona said: "We've had these public hearings in other provinces and we didn't receive such a hostile reception. We will definitely be increasing security to ensure that when everyone comes, they are safe."

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