Student Protests to Continue at South Africa's Wits University

  • University management ask students to enter negotiations
  • University will remain closed on Oct. 26 as talks continue

South Africa’s Witwatersrand University said it’s disappointed at the decision of students to continue protesting after an announcement by President Jacob Zuma that there will be no fee increase in 2016.

"We feel that it will put in jeopardy the academic futures of many students who will not be able to pass or graduate," the university said in a statement on its website Saturday. "This will only further entrench and deepen the inequalities in our society."

Protests will start again Monday, with the institution remaining closed. The complaints reflect a wider frustration over the government’s inability to cut widespread poverty and inequality two decades after the end of white-minority rule. The Treasury is under pressure to find more money to subsidize universities as debt continues to climb amid weak economic growth.

The university has encouraged students to participate in a negotiation process to cover outstanding issues and to allow the academic program and examinations to proceed unhampered.

"A special meeting of Senate, the highest academic decision-making body of the university, will be convened on Monday to deliberate on the protest and to decide on the resumption of the academic program," the university said.

The students will continue to protest “for the enforcement of free education,” Fashiha Hassan, secretary general of the student representative council, said by phone.

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