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OPINION: #FeesMustFall from a student’s perspective

The protests surrounding Fees Must Fall have created a lot of controversy with all its happenings over the past year. Being a student in this time is very crucial as there may be a change on the horizon as the students behind the protests request free tertiary education.

Although I do agree with the fact that tertiary fees are too expensive and that for many people it is hard to obtain the funding to send themselves or their children to university, a part of me feels like at this moment in time, we cannot request for such a drastic change to take place.

Our government as it is cannot afford to carry millions of students by providing each and every one of us with free tertiary education. Our economy is too unstable and we have many more areas which require funding from the government rather than what we as students do.

Yes, we are the future of the country, but how will we ever value our education if it is given to us for free if we are already destroying our precious institutions in the struggle for free education?

Another factor which puts me on the fence about the Fees Must Fall protests is the fact that our universities bring in some of the best lecturers from across the world to provide us with the best quality of education we can receive. Therefore, we cannot expect these people who have studied for many years to get to the point where they are to work for next to nothing, something that we as students would never want one day when we do eventually start working in our respective fields.

As students we cannot just think about the present moment, we need to look at the bigger picture of what all this can lead to in the future.

Free education should be a priority for our government, but it cannot be expected to happen overnight. The annual increase of up to 8% in student fees is a bit ridiculous and I do not agree with fees increasing by so much knowing that many are struggling to afford fees as it is, with many students and parents paying out of their own pockets.

In my personal opinion, I feel like we should pay to study at these recognised institutions. However, we should not be paying as much as we do as the price tag to study at any recognised institute in South Africa is a bit hefty.

Both the government and these institutions need to sit down and re-evaluate the situation at hand and come to a conclusion which works best for the students and the government and the institutions we study at, whether it be to drastically decrease the price of fees or to work towards providing everyone with free education in the future.

I do not want anyone to think that I am against the Fees Must Fall protests. If anything, I as a student stand fully behind the initiative and fight for free education for all, but I do not think there is a reason for students to get violent about the situation and stop many of the students who are working diligently towards getting their degrees.

We as students need to work smart and hard when it comes to the struggle to obtain free education for all, until we as a country get to a point where we are stable enough to provide each and every student with free education.

Anonymous is a third-year student at the University of Johannesburg studying a degree in humanities specialising in geography and anthropology.

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