UJ Lecturers and Postgraduate Students Join the FeesMustFall Protest #UJAcademicsAction

Lauren Pillay Magnificent Mndebele  

 Lecturers and postgraduate students at the University of Johannesburg marched in support of FeesMustFall movement. Their support for FeesMustFall was sparked by their academic research findings that South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product percentage used on Higher Education is relatively smaller than other countries in the world.

Their research findings highlight that South Africa’s total GDP contribution to higher education is 0.75 percent while countries that are relatively poorer than South Africa such as Senegal, Ghana and India contribute with at least 1.4 percent of their GDP to Higher Education.

The rank on this table highlights the poorest countries in the world in 2015 and an additional column shows the percent of their GDP these countries give to higher education in comparison to South Africa.

Ranking Country 2015 International Dollars

% of GDP for higher education

29 Senegal 2,398.26 1.4%
48 Ghana 4,338.27 1.4%
61 India 6,176.29 1.3%
99 South Africa 13,078.00 0.75%
130 Argentina 21,924.29 1.4%
135 Russian Federation 25,350.86 1.8%

The Academic movement was headed by the Hashtag #FundingMustRise. With years of research and experience, Professors and Postgraduate students have developed a solution in order to defend public universities. They make a plea to the government to “decisively increase funding on higher education and call for an end to all violence on and around our campuses” as seen on the pamphlet handed out at the protest.

Students that participated in the #FundingMustRise protest did not want to be interviewed, their mouths were taped and it read “scared of suspension” and “freedom of expression is equal to suspension”.

Recently, there were students who were sent letters by the University Management at UJ with an intention to suspend them for “participating in illegal gatherings”.

“The government has agreed to subsidize poor students and the ‘missing middle’ by not increasing fees for them. Why are students protesting if they got what they wanted?” these were some of the comments that circulated on a pamphlet during the protest.

“The government’s offer is only to pay the fee increases for 2017 students from households with incomes under R600 000 per annum…To pay those fees, poor students will have to take loans that will leave them in debt for years to come. Those who can’t clear their existing debt will be barred from registering and will be prevented from studying,”

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