Statement on Union Buildings meeting
- Wits University
Statement from Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal:
The Vice-Chancellors and Chairs of Council represented through Universities South Africa, today presented the following proposals to the joint meeting hosted by the Presidency at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
- All parties should collectively commit to a zero percent (0%) increase for 2016, with government stepping in to make up the difference
- Universities will independently commit to deliberate on their expenditure and make immediate efficiency gains.
- The Presidential Task Team that was established will deliberate and attend to the plight of students in debt and increase funding for financial aid.
- The immediate establishment of a commission to look at the restructuring of the entire system, including fee increases, subsidy and cost drivers and historical inequality, including infrastructure renewal.
- The medium-term goal is to ensure that all students in need have free access to a quality higher education.
- The establishment of a separate commission to address the challenge of outsourcing to allow universities to reaffirm our broad commitment to ethical standards.
- In return, students are to resume all academic activities immediately and complete their examinations. Each university will determine an examination extension that is appropriate to its circumstances.
- All parties are to commit to peaceful interaction, non-violence and to refrain from engagement in the politics of humiliation.
The meeting lasted several hours and after intense debate and deliberation between all stakeholders, President Zuma, in a televised address to the nation, made the following announcement:
- There would be a zero percent (0%) increase in fees for 2016.
- University Vice-Chancellors will extend the time for the examinations period to compensate for time lost.
- Long-term issues to be addressed include free education, institutional autonomy, racism, and what students call “black debt”.
- The Presidential Task Team that has been established to address funding mechanisms will be broadened to look at all these and broader transformation issues affecting higher education.
There will be an attempt by government to ensure that all students arrested will not be charged.