22 November 2017

South Africa: Universities in Limbo As All Goes Quiet On Student Fees

Exams written in tents; cash rewards for information about people destroying campus property; ongoing student arrests. Beyond these aspects, end-of-year exams at South Africa's universities are proceeding relatively peacefully. Behind the scenes, though, there is considerable uncertainty as to what the future holds. Decisions have to be made by December about student fees for 2018, but there's still no word from the Department of Higher Education as to what its recommendations will be. Following rumours of a fee-free plan to be pushed through by President Zuma, meanwhile, the Presidency has also fallen silent on the matter.

Motorists driving past the University of Cape Town's campus over the last few weeks may have seen a circus-like structure erected on the university's rugby fields. The fenced-off tents, guarded by security, are hosting the bulk of UCT's exams.

Announcing the "unusual step", UCT vice chancellor Max Price explained in a statement that it was motivated by the university's "firm commitment to the students who want to write their exams and see the academic year through to its end". He further stated that security officers would be stationed within the exam tents to intercept "any protesters who are students, and therefore...

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