UCT students halt classes again as Zuma has yet to release the fees commission report
Alarms are tripped and multiple blockades set up as frustrated students say the Presidency is ignoring their demand for the report to be released
Classes were disrupted for a second day at the University of Cape Town (UCT) on Thursday as students, calling on the president to release a report on tuition fees, resumed their protest.
Alarms were tripped and students were chased out of classes as protesters made their way through campus. In addition, the institution’s shuttles were prevented from leaving depots. Multiple blockades were set up on the upper‚ middle and lower campuses. In response, university management announced that face-to-face classes were cancelled for Thursday and Friday.
"The reason is primarily for the safety of students and staff and to avoid exposing staff and students to unacceptable disruptive behaviour‚" said a UCT statement. Campus Protection Services‚ a private security company‚ police and a water cannon were on campus to monitor the situation.
One of the students’ demands is the release of the findings by the fees commission into the feasibility of free education. The Presidency has ignored numerous enquiries about when the report will released.
On Wednesday, BusinessLIVE reported that covering the full cost of study for students who qualify for funding under the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) would require an additional R10.7m for the 2018 academic year. Treasury sought to "highlight the potential strain on the fiscus should students’ demands for free higher education be met".
While the government has yet to say whether fees will be to scrapped, many students at UCT believe it is plausible.
• Computer science student Zakariyah Toyer said on Thursday: "There is a lot of wastage by government, especially on our parastatals. There is enough money but it is not being utilised properly."
• Law student Nuraan Nackerdien said: "There is enough money, but they make it look like there isn’t. They are only concerned with lining their own pockets."
• Electrical engineering student Walter Masunungure explained: "Funds are needed to sustain the university. In the long term. I think it is possible‚ but additional funds need to be allocated to universities across the country to sustain their facilities."
• Third year student Nokulunga Sisusa believes "there is a possibility that [free education] might happen. Other countries have been able to fund free education in Africa. I think it is possible‚ but with time."