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In South Africa: students protest tuition hikes

Students protest a planned tuition hike outside the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. Siphiwe Sibeko/REUTERS

Thousands of South African university students have taken to the streets in the biggest unified student protests since the first democratic elections in 1994.

The protests began at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg on October 14. Over the following week, students from universities across the country joined the action – in many instances occupying campuses.

The principal demand of the protesters has been for a zero increase in fees in 2016. Afer a meeting between President Jacob Zuma, vice chancellors and student leaders on the October 23, the government announced that there would be zero increase in fees next year.

The Conversation Africa has carried a number of articles on issues underlying the student unrest.

Suellen Shay sets out why the South Africa recently missed a golden opportunity to address the systemic problems facing higher education. Patrick Bond argues that the men who control the country’s purse strings are to blame.

A professor, David Dickinson, who has joined the student demonstrations believes that the escalating tensions reflect deep-seated problems in the country’s universities.

Sioux McKenna writes that the protests show that students and many academics are fed up with high fees and a faculty that’s too white and too male.

A different perspective is provided by Graeme Bloch, who argues that while free education is a worthy goal, South Africa is unable to afford it at present.

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