Students to march on Parliament today

UCT vice-chancellor Max Price has urged staff members & students to join the march.

FILE: Students protest at Parliament in Cape Town for free education. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Students are expected to march on Parliament later today as part of their campaign against fee hikes.

University of Cape Town (UCT) vice-chancellor Max Price has urged staff members and students to join the march, which is being led by Cape Peninsula University of Technology's student representative council.

A picket has been planned by UCT academics and trade unions outside the national legislature.

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has reiterated government is expanding efforts to provide free education to poor students.

Nzimande yesterday briefed Parliament on the crisis gripping many of the country's universities.

The minister stressed three new universities, as well as plans for 14 new colleges, form part of a long-term strategy.

Nzimande says government is working on plans to address the fees crisis.

"We have taken a number of measures to progressively realise improved access to education, especially to assist academically deserving students from poor families."

Nzimande says a prolonged shutdown will have serious consequences.

"If the 2016 trainee teachers don't graduate then about 20,000 classrooms will have no teachers at the beginning of next year. Junior doctors, those who are hoping to graduate this year, are also at the frontline of health service delivery."

But opposition MPs have criticised Nzimande's update as lacking depth. The Democratic Alliance's Belinda Bozoli questioned the minister, labelling the fees protests as "the worst educational crisis in history".

At the same time, the Economic Freedom Fighter's Floyd Shivambu suggests the solution lies in strategic planning.

The Fees Commission into the feasibility of free tertiary education is expected to release a preliminary report next month.