With Wits students having abandoned classes for weeks now to demand free higher education, the university said it was doing everything it could to complete the academic year. File picture: Antoine de Ras
With Wits students having abandoned classes for weeks now to demand free higher education, the university said it was doing everything it could to complete the academic year. File picture: Antoine de Ras

No student to miss finals because of outstanding fees: Wits

By African News Agency Time of article published Oct 12, 2016

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Johannesburg – The University of Witwatersrand (Wits) on Wednesday committed to allowing students to sit for their year-end examinations even if they owe the institution tuition fees.

“Please note that no student will be prevented from writing examinations for financial reasons,” a statement from Wits senior executive team read.

Wits Senate last week approved a two-weeks extension to the academic calendar.

As things stand, Wits term ends on October 31, with a study break between November 1 and 2. Examinations are expected to run from November 3 to 30. Some graduations for 2016, have been rescheduled.

This comes as students continued to protest at the university’s main campus in Braamfontein on Wednesday, though majority of classes continued across all campuses without disruption, and with better attendance than Tuesday.

Students protesting for free education have been trying to force the institution to shut down until their demands are met. However, a huge police and private security presence has ensued that lectures continue.

Their protest began after Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, announced on September 19, that universities could decide on their own whether to hike the fees for 2017, but should not exceed eight percent.

Wits said three petrol bombs were found in a backpack near the Raikes Gate on the Wits West Campus in the early hours of Wednesday. A security officer made the discovery and alerted the police who removed them.

Two other petrol bombs were found outside the John Moffet Building late Tuesday night.

“It appears as if another petrol bomb was thrown through a window to the basement of the building, which caused a fire. Security officers managed to extinguish the fire quickly,” Wits said.

Wits also accused protesting students of intimidation tactics and spreading misinformation around the university population.

“We are aware that many students and staff are being intimidated by protesting students. This intimidation takes various forms – there are reports of intimidation of students in residences as well as those who attend classes,” Wits said.

“There are students who are circulating threatening voice notes and WhatsApp messages to instil fear in the Wits community. These notes and messages have been passed on to the police and they are investigating it.”

Protesting students were bussed to Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday afternoon where they protested in support of their eight peers who were arrested for public violence during the #FeesMustFall protests earlier this week.

The arrested students were released on R1000 bail and are due back in court on November 2.

The Wits Student Representative Council held a mass students meeting at Solomon Mahlangu House on Wednesday night in bid to chart a way forward for their free education struggle.

Meanwhile, Nzimande, will on Thursday appear before thee Commission of Inquiry established to investigate the feasibility of free higher education and training.

African News Agency

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