The student protests that erupted following Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande’s announcement of fee increases for 2017 show no sign of abating. The suspension of the academic year is becoming a reality with each passing day. This will preclude final-year students from graduating, with adverse implications for the labour market. It will also further disadvantage poor and working-class students whose parents have made sacrifices to enable them to pursue higher education. But the biggest danger is that the protests may result in an escalation of violence with dire consequences, given the inability of the South African Police Service to deal with protests other than in a heavy-handed fashion. It is imperative that the impasse is broken but there seems to be no urgency to do so, either on the part of the government or the leadership of higher education. The vice-chancellors, with a few exceptions, have buried their heads in the sand. The lack of political leadershi...

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