Special Reports

Student Protests At South African Universities Leads To Week-Long Shutdown


Student protests at South African universities have not died down. The rallies have resulted to a week-long shutdown of some campuses in the country.

It was previously reported that student protests in South African universities came after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that tuition fee hike decisions will be left to the schools. Rhodes University has met with some students, the Student Representative Council (SRC), and staff to discuss at how feasible free education and free supplementary exams would be. The process of including students for budget-making has also been discussed.

Recently, Reuters reported that clashes between the police and student protesters have forced South African college the University of the Witwatersrand, known as Wits, and Cape Town universities to suspend classes for the second time in less than a month. A spokesperson for Wits revealed that classes would be canceled until Oct. 10.

On Tuesday, it was noted that police fired stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas after student protesters at the Johannesburg campus threw stones at them and flipped one vehicle. The university added that some protesters even pulled lecturers out of their offices.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has announced that it would be shut down for the rest of the week due to safety concerns. The school has hired private security guards to help secure the campus.

According to Quartz, student protesters have said that the violence will not end until tuition fees are scrapped. They are basing their protests on South Africa's constitution that states, "Everyone has the right to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible."

However, the treasury admitted that free higher education would require a financial restructuring that the country's already ailing budget cannot handle. A leaked 2012 report did reveal that free university for the country's poorest students is possible with significant additional funding of both the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the university system.

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