National 15.8.2016 09:49 am

UP students call mass meeting over fee increase

Students of various institutions and organisations sing and dance in the streets of Pretoria. Picture: Christine Vermooten

Students of various institutions and organisations sing and dance in the streets of Pretoria. Picture: Christine Vermooten

Universities have indicated that they suffered heavy financial losses because they were not allowed to increase fees last year.

The SRC at the University of Pretoria has called a mass student meeting on Monday to discuss possible tuition fee increase for 2017.

“It is unfortunate that a year later we find ourselves in the same position which led to #FeesMustFall and no substantive measures have been put in place to address the issues students raised,” the SRC said.

The organisation said the meeting would unpack the implications of fee increase within the University of Pretoria and allow students to voice their concerns.

South African Union of Students (Saus), a federation of student representative councils from 26 higher education institutions, said it “would not rest” until there was free higher education for all in South Africa.

Saus said it opposed fee increments and would mobilise students on Monday to march to financial institutions to urge them to do more to help student funding.

The planned action follows a presentation by the National Treasury during public hearings of the judicial commission of inquiry into higher education fees in Pretoria on Friday.

At the hearings the treasury painted a bleak picture of budget shortfalls for higher education funding. There was no money to cushion another no fee increment at universities, the commission heard.

Other student organisations such as the Economic Freedom Front Student Command (Effsc) and the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (Pasma) withdrew their participation at the commission last week. Pasma labeled the commission “toothless” after it conceded it had no powers to effect a no-fee increment for next year.

Universities have indicated they suffered heavy financial losses because they were not allowed to increase fees last year.

Most institutions said they relied on tuition fees to sustain themselves and pointed out student debt had risen sharply since the advent of the nationwide student’s “#FeesMustFall” campaign about a year ago.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande on Sunday called for calm and said that no decision on fees for 2017 has been made.
The minister had on Thursday received a report on tuition fees from the council on higher education. He, however, cancelled a media briefing scheduled on Friday to announce whether fees would be increased or not.

Nzimande’s office said he needed to consult further before making any announcement as student groups awaited his announcement and dared him to mention fee increase for 2017.

“Given the competing views on fee adjustments, it is indeed imperative that we get as broad a consensus as possible regarding 2017 fees,” Nzimande said.

“The false claims that the government has already pronounced itself on the matter are thus not only mischievous, but highly prejudicial to the delicate stakeholder engagements that are taking place.”

– African News Agency (ANA)

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