Wits University to seek new model, suspends 10% fee increase after protests

By Franz Wild

(Bloomberg) — South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg suspended a 10 percent tuition-fee increase, after student protests on Monday closed the institution, Vice Chancellor Adam Habib said.

University and student leaders will meet to find a funding model to ensure academic standards are upheld, Habib said in an interview broadcast on Johannesburg-based Power FM.

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At the University of Cape Town, police used stun grenades to disperse students who were blocking entrances to a building, the state-owned South African Broadcasting Corp. reported, without saying how it got the information. More than 20 students were arrested for violating a court order obtained by UCT prohibiting them from occupying any of the institution’s properties, it said.

Read also: Matthew Lester: University out of reach. Current fee model unsustainable.

The state shouldn’t have to come up with all student funding, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande in an interview broadcast on Talk Radio 702.

The schools had proposed tuition increases of more than 10 percent. The education system in South Africa has been undermined by poorly trained teachers and high absenteeism. The pass rate for undergraduate degrees is only about 15 percent, 20 percent of masters students obtain their degrees, and 12 percent of doctoral students graduate, according to a Department of Higher Education report released in 2013.