University of Pretoria students vow to go ahead with protest

Karabo Ngoepe, News24

Pretoria- Students from the University of Pretoria say they are pushing ahead with their protest over proposed fee increments for 2016 and they have vowed not to back down.

An international student says she supports the action as the money they must pay in the coming year was exorbitant. The student, who asked not to be named, said they would be expected to pay more than R40 000 before they could even start studying.

“It is going to be R20 000 for registration, R42 000 for accommodation and R5 000 for medical aid. All that money excludes the actual tuition for the year. Then there is money for electricity and the food,” she said.

Students at the institution were up in arms on Tuesday night when they heard they would be kicked out of the campus. Entrances to the university were closed while those inside held a night vigil and sang until the early hours of Wednesday morning in preparation for the protest action.

Another student said they wanted to protest inside the campus.

“Protesting outside will not have the same impact as being inside. I just hope they [security] don’t get violent with us because we will be protesting peacefully,” he said.

Students are not happy with the planned fee increases for 2016. According to the students, the institution plans to increase the registration fees from R5 000 to R7 500 for South African citizens, a 50% increase.

And for students from SADC region countries, the registration fee has gone up from R5 000 to R20 000, a 300% increase, while other international students face a whopping 700% hike - R5 000 to R40 000.

The country has seen numerous protests as students express dissatisfaction with the fee increments. Students are also calling on government to provide free education in universities.

Student leaders have called for a complete shutdown of all institutions of higher learning in order to speak in one voice against the fee increments.

The Department of Higher Education and the vice-chancellors on Tuesday reached an agreement to cap increments at 6% but students have rejected the offer. Students are calling for 0% increases and free education.