UCT shut down

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CLASSES were disrupted for a second day at the University of Cape Town on Thursday as students calling on President Jacob Zuma to release a report on tuition fees resumed their protest.

The University of Cape Town has been shut down due to protest action
Pictures: AISHA HAUSER

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.

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Multiple blockades were set up on the upper, middle and lower campus. 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 as well as police and a water canon 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 by TimesLIVE about when the report will released.

But on Wednesday BusinessLIVE reported that covering the full cost of study for students who qualify for funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) would require an additional R10.7-million for the 2018 academic year.

Treasury, the article continued, sought to “highlight the potential strain on the fiscus should students’ demands for free higher education be met”.

While government is yet to say whether fees will be scrapped, many students at UCT believe it is plausible.

  • Computer science student Zakariyah Toyer, 21, 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 20, who 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, 19, explained that: “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 , 22, believes that: “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.”

A mass meeting was scheduled for this afternoon (Thursday).

PETRU SAAL and AISHA HAUSER

TimesLIVE/

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