The University of Cape Town (UCT) has given staff time off to participate in protests at Parliament‚ where Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will give his medium term budget policy statement on Wednesday.
Vice-chancellor Dr Max Price on Tuesday night encouraged students and staff to take part in the demonstrations to reinforce that “it is government that must solve this national crisis – the universities themselves cannot do so”.
“We may not all have exactly the same view on how higher education should be funded and whether it should be free for all‚” said Price.
“But we believe we are at one with the students in calling for a funding system that ensures that no one is prevented from studying at university for financial reasons.
“We need government to recognise that fees are unaffordable for most students. We are also aligned with the students on the concern that we do not see an urgent plan.”
Price noted that the Fees Commission is addressing these issues‚ but added that it “is only scheduled to report in June 2017”.
With bureaucracy and procedure‚ he added‚ “it means that for the next three years or so‚ we will have an annual crisis like this where the government and the Department of Higher Education and Training and others are trying to find money to avoid an increase while a policy is being put in place”.
“So‚ we march and picket tomorrow to call on government to take extraordinary measures to resolve some of the issues now‚ before the end of this year‚” Price said.
“That would be a sign of goodwill. It would be a sign that we are taking the students’ immediate concerns about affordability seriously.”