Wits students' protest suspended

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Johannesburg - Protesting Wits University students have suspended their mass action against the university's proposed fee increases for next year.

"Following a court interdict and discussions between representatives from Wits management and a small group of protesting students, the students have agreed to suspend all protest activity," the university said on Thursday afternoon.

Students have been protesting against a proposed hike in fees for 2010. They upended rubbish bins, disrupted lectures and prevented motorists from entering the campus earlier this week.

The university was earlier on Thursday granted a court order preventing students from further disrupting classes.

In a meeting on Thursday, the students agreed to make representations to the council regarding the proposed fees increases.

It was also agreed that students would raise their proposals that there be mechanisms to address individual cases of students who cannot afford the full upfront fee payment at council.

While the university maintained that the upfront fee for 2010 will remain intact, it said it would endeavour to reduce the proposed residence fee increment from the proposed 11.68 percent increase.

The meeting also agreed to address the issue of subsuming all academic related miscellaneous fees into the Financial Aid allocation. However, the possibility for students to settle their miscellaneous fee charges through the "service-work bursary" will be retained as an option.

The parties agreed to increase the allowances for students on financial aid from R1500 to R2000 per quarter. According to the institution, this will mean that fewer financial aid packages for first year students will be available in 2010.

The parties agreed in principle to convene review committees to issues raised by the students such as the fee structure and the effectiveness of the student bus transport system among others.