Student protests not a national crisis – Nzimande

Student protests not a national crisis – Nzimande

Student protests over fee increases which have resulted in the closure of several universities were not a national crisis, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said on Monday as he announced an urgent meeting with representatives from universities, student bodies, and workers set for Tuesday.

“Yes, it is a challenge, but I wouldn’t call it a crisis because we have ways and means of discussing the matter,” Nzimande said while addressing journalists at a media briefing in Pretoria.

So far, Wits University, the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University and Fort Hare University have been affected by the protests, Nzimande said.

“I am tomorrow [Tuesday] convening a meeting with representative delegations of vice-chancellors, university council chairs, students and workers, to discuss and come up with a common framework and approach to the issue of university fee increases for 2016,” he said.

“An approach must be developed in order to come up with a dispensation that takes into account the difficult circumstances facing especially the students who come from poor families, as well as financial pressures facing the system.”

Nzimande called on university management to be more sensitive and cautious when deciding on fee increases.

“It is imperative that they consult all relevant stakeholders in order to minimise the detrimental impact on poor students,” he said.

Nzimande also called on students to give negotiations with management a chance.

“Students need to be brought on board for frank and honest discussions so as to ensure that there is stability in our institutions,” the minister said.

“The management of universities must open up legitimate channels for discussion and dialogue over these matters, and not allow matters to deteriorate, often due to lack of understanding and knowledge of the situation and spurred by poor communication.”

-African News Agency


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