Frustration builds up at universities over fees

There have been protests at Wits, the University of Pretoria and University of Cape Town today.

Students shut down Wits campus after Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande failed to deliver a free tertiary education policy. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Frustration is building at universities across the country as students mobilise in the wake of the Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande's announcement that varsities need to determine their own fee hikes for next year.

There have been protests at Wits, the University of Pretoria and University of Cape Town (UCT) today, with many students angry over the announcement and refusing to budge on their demand for free tertiary education.

Minister Nzimande says he's capped the maximum possible increase at eight percent for next year and has given an assurance that poor students will be given assistance.

At Wits this evening, students, staff and parents continue to wait for demonstrators to let them out of the main campus.

Students have blocked various entrances to the institution and are waiting for a meeting at Solomon Mahlangu House.

One person who was stuck inside said, "I have an 82-year-old father-in-law who is chronically ill who needs to be nebulised and he cannot do that on his own. I don't know what time I'm going to get home and I think it's unfair."

Another said, "The situation is pretty under control and calm. I don't think it's as bad as last year."

Meanwhile, the University of Pretoria's Student Representative Council (SRC) have warned students to be wary of what it calls 'unruly political interference' when protesting possible university fee increases.

A small group of Tuks students disrupted classes at several buildings in protest against an earlier announcement of possible fee hikes at tertiary institutions next year.

The university is also expected to hold SRC elections tomorrow.

As some students clad in Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) shirts and red berets sang and danced on tables, others watched on and continued their studies.

Despite brief disruptions this afternoon, SRC Secretary General Donovan du Plooy maintains the university will remain open until an official announcement is made by campus management.

One third-year engineering student says while she disapproves of the way students are protesting, they have a valid cause.

While the university has made no official announcement on tuition fees for next year, some students say the only way to ensure no fee increases is to shut the campus down.


At the same time in Cape Town, protesting UCT students say they reject a higher education announcement that university management should decide on 2017 tuition fees.

Students have been gathering at the Jameson Hall to deliberate on a list of demands presented to the institution's management.

Student activist, Masixole Mlandu, says they demand free higher education.

"We reject any talk about free increments, we reject Blade Nzimande and his toothless commission on the 8 percent cap on fee increments this year."

Protesting students are also demanding a change in the current curriculum, saying they want the experiences of black people included.

Fees Must Fall demonstrators are expected to engage with varsity management tomorrow.

WATCH: Students occupy Wits after Nzimande fails to deliver onn #FeesMustFall