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#FeesMustFall: University students & parents to meet at Wits today

Dozens of people gathered for a public meeting in the Johannesburg CBD yesterday to chart a way forward.

Wits University students arrive at the Cosatu House. Picture: Clement Manyathela/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Parents and students from various institutions are expected to meet at Wits University's Solomon Mahlangu House later today for a public meeting about how parents can contribute to the fight for free higher education.

Dozens of people gathered for a public meeting in the Johannesburg CBD yesterday to chart a way forward following a wave of demonstrations this week.

Last Monday, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that university councils would decide on fee hikes for 2017 but the poor and those falling in the missing middle group would be exempt.

Nzimande said university councils must determine fee increases for next year but capped them at eight percent, saying government would subsidise the poor and those who fall within the so-called missing middle.

Students say while they acknowledge this move there has been no concrete plan on how to achieve free education or remove historical debt.

Wits academic and one of the organisers of the public meeting Zimitri Erasmus says the aim of yesterday's gathering was to unpack why students are still protesting.

"Some of the suggestions that have come up from this floor is that parents need to meet and figure out how they can find out what their children are actually fighting for."

Erasmus says a series of meetings will be held to discuss the current state of the country's universities and the violence on campuses.

"The question we have to ask is how and why violence erupts in the first place."

Erasmus says while the students accept the assistance government will provide for the missing middle, many are unhappy that Nzimande's announcement made no mention of how to deal with historical debt.

"They want very concrete steps forward, that is what students want."

Today's meeting is expected to explain why and how parents can participate in the fight for free education.