As the #FeesMustFall campaign rages on, the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) management was on Thursday preparing to meet and discuss Minister Pravin Gordhan’s medium-term budget policy.
University spokesperson Shirona Patel said management would have a concrete view and a plan on Gordhan’s medium-term budget policy statement after the meeting.
“Aside from the speech, they need to analyse the actual budget policy, as it has subsidy implications for the next three years,” Patel said.
During his medium-term budget speech on Wednesday, Gordhan said government would allocate an additional R17.6 billion to fund higher education over the next three years to 2019. This follows a R5.6 billion added to university subsidies to fund the zero-percent fee increase for the 2016 academic year.
He said Treasury has forecast that spending on post-school education and training would have increased by 9.2% by 2019, placing it second only after costs of servicing government debt.
The department admitted that the #FeesMustFall campaign had placed the issue of education funding at the centre of the policy debate and had generated welcome suggestions on how to fund tertiary education.
For the past six weeks, thousands of students have abandoned classes – with end of year exams looming – and have instead joined protests to demand free higher education.
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The #FeesMustFall campaign has been marred by violence, death, injuries and destruction of property, as running battles between the protesting students and police raged.
Outside parliament on Wednesday, hundreds of protesting students from universities in the Western Cape clashed with police. Before he delivered his medium-term budget speech, Gordhan went outside to receive a memorandum of demands from the students.
The protest spilled on to the streets of the Cape Town CBD, where police used stun grenades and rubber bullets.
– African News Agency (ANA)