Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande says he is concerned by violent protests at university campuses.
Students are continuing their call for free education at institutions of higher learning. During a community radio call-in programme on Wednesday, the Minister called on all South Africans, including parents and student leadership, to condemn the destruction of property.
“We need to remind all students that the destruction of property and the disruption of the academic programme does not address the legitimate concerns of students. As the Minister, I will not wait on the sidelines for any further damage to property, injuries to students or ultimately loss of life to occur before acting against violence on campuses.
“Government cannot and will not tolerate the threat to lives and destruction of property, and requests law enforcement agencies to assist with the safeguarding of students, staff, workers and university property,” Minister Nzimande said.
The Minister on Monday announced that universities will individually decide on the fee increases for the 2017 academic year. This follows the Council on Higher Education (CHE) report for 2017 fee adjustments, as well as the Minister’s ongoing consultations with key stakeholders. The recommendation, however, is that fee adjustments should not go above 8%.
Minister Nzimande said government is committed to finding the resources to support the children of all poor, working and middle class families with a household income of up to R600 000 per annum.
The Minister used the platform to call on parents who can afford to pay fees to do so.
“…Those who can afford to pay must pay, and the rich and the wealthy must also be able to pay,” said Minister Nzimande.
The Minister said the upward adjustment to fees was necessary to ensure that universities remain viable.
“(Universities) are [among] the biggest ratepayers, and in fact, some municipalities are almost entirely depended on university rates. Electricity and water rates go up, and [the price of] food to feed students go up,” said the Minister.
He appealed to all students, parents and the higher education sector to give the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education Funding a chance to do its work, so that it can find a permanent solution to make higher education accessible to the poor.
The Commission is expected to conclude its work in the 2017 academic year. – SAnews.gov.za
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