#WitsFeesMustFall: “I feel like government intervention is necessary”

Students at the University of the Witwatersrand have been protesting over a 10,5% increase to fees set for next year and academic activities on campus have been brought to a standstill. FIRDAUS KHAN asked students how they feel about the protest.

Thando SibiyaThando Sibiya, 19, BA student
I’m supporting the #WitsFeesMustFall movement strongly, because [the increase] is unreasonable. Students already cannot afford fees right now, and the heightening of school fees is not necessarily beneficial to anybody except the university itself. I come from a middle-class family, so we can afford fees, but a hike will also affect our financial stability at home. I would probably have to sacrifice my accommodation, and travel to university every day from home, which is far. This hike in fees is going to cause a lot of instability in a lot of peoples’ lives. I feel like government intervention is necessary. The government needs to start pulling up their socks in terms of what they give to students.

Rummannah PahadRumannah Pahad, 19, BA student
The #WitsFeesMustFall protest is justified as the fee increase is ridiculously high. The magnitude of the protest is appropriate as only such large and disruptive actions receive coverage and recognition from media, students, and most importantly the university. My parents will fortunately still be able to fund my studies, but it would become an even larger burden for them financially. But many other students will not be able to even consider coming to study or continue their studies at Wits. Many students will face serious financial difficulties and will probably be forced to either drop out or majorly reduce their expenses leading to bad living conditions. The fee increase needs to be challenged by those whom it affects: the students.Wits alumni who are currently in high powered jobs should be reached out to for donations and government should be subsidising the majority of tertiary education. I fear that the protest will get violent as matters seem to be escalating through what I have seen on Twitter. I would not like to be physically involved; I do however applaud those who are participating and hope that they are safe.

Aamena Bibi JogeeAamena Bibi Jogee, 20, media studies student
I feel highly motivated and inspired by the protest, to be a part of something that will help to relieve the economic limitations imposed [on students] by the university. This increase will definitely place extra financial pressure on me as I am on a student loan. Many of my friends are not financially equipped to pay for university. Wits will have to find alternatives that prioritise redress for unemployed and poor people. This “need” for fees can be combated by government intervention or by providing adequate funding for poor students, either through managing NSFAS more efficiently or through negotiation. I will be participating in the protest [but] I disagree with the attempt to shut Wits down. There is a large number of students that feel indifferent and feel the need to perform as normal. This has to be respected, as the protest is respected.

– Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity.
– Featured image courtesy of Azra Karim