UCT vice-chancellor warns rest of academic year at risk

Vice-chancellor Max Price is hoping that the number of demonstrators will be down by next week.

FILE: University of Cape Town students protest on campus grounds. Picture: Lauren Isaacs/EWN.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - University of Cape Town (UCT) vice-chancellor Dr Max Price says if student protests persist, the rest of the academic year will be at serious risk.

Lectures at the university remain suspended for a second week.

Student protests escalated following Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande's announcement that universities would set 2017 fee increases within an eight percent cap.

Price says there will be consequences if the university remains shut.

"If we continue beyond the end of next week, we probably can't complete the academic year and that has rather disastrous consequences for the students themselves, as well as for the university."

The vice-chancellor says they're hopeful the number of demonstrators will be down by next week.

"I'm hoping we'll have overwhelming support and reduced student protests. We hope there will be none left but if there are, I hope the number will be small that we can contain that with less security."

He adds increased security at campus is not an option at this stage.

Meanwhile, management at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) says that academic activities at the institution will continue despite ongoing protests for free education.

Yesterday some of the demonstrators moved off the Auckland Park campus and onto Kingsway Avenue where they blocked off traffic outside Campus Square shopping mall.

Students at the university have vowed to continue demonstrations, despite managements warning that their protests are not permitted.

At the University of Witwatersrand, an investigation is underway into the death of a cleaner who inhaled fumes from an extinguisher which was set off during the protests last week.

The worker was treated on the campus before being rushed to hospital but died shortly after being discharged.