Students march to Parliament for release of fees report

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Students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) this morning joined a march to Parliament ahead of the Medium-term Budget speech due to be given later today by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.

They are marching to demand the release of the Fees Commission report. The report was received by President Jacob Zuma in August but has not since been made public. At present universities do not yet know what funding they will receive from the government next year, causing delays to decisions on what next year’s fees will be.

UCT vice-chancellor Max Price on Monday issued a statement in which he appealed for the release of Fees Commission report. He said that until then the university could not make a decision on fees for 2018, which would normally have been done by September each year.

“The uncertainty impacts on the ability of students and parents to plan financially for the next year,” Price said. “We will not be able to delay decisions on fees for much longer. We therefore appeal to the President to release the report for public scrutiny and debate.”

The South African Union of Students (SAUS) also issued a statement on Monday requesting the president to make an announcement on university fees before today’s budget speech. In its statement, SAUS also noted “with disgust” that students had been assaulted and harassed by private security at UFS.

So far this week three campuses have been hit by protest action, with a shuttle set alight at CPUT, UCT students occupying the library on upper campus and University of Free State students delivering a memorandum to university management yesterday.

Some students at UCT also sought to disrupt classes, but the university’s #FeesMustFall movement said that it was not involved. Student leader Athabile Nonxuba told News24 that the disruption had been caused by a “disgruntled student” who had been kicked out of the movement.

Gigaba is due to begin his speech to Parliament at 2pm this afternoon.