Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande urged student leaders to talk to the department if they still had problems over university fees and funding as the #FeesMustFall protests showed signs of returning in 2016.
“We understand. Legitimately they are asking us to implement our own policies,” said Nzimande after unveiling a multimillion-rand plan to avert the protests and clashes with police that marked the end of the 2015 academic year.
“We would really urge that there is no issue that is not up for discussion. We heard what the students said, and we have got interventions and plans going forward.”
This included R10bn for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, and a further R6.9bn to cover students whose financial aid was not paid for the last three years, and for their ongoing education.
A meeting with the leaders of the Student Representative Councils across South Africa would also take place on Thursday.
He said the presidential task team set up after last year’s clashes had realised that the means test was too low, inadvertently leaving out students whose parents could not afford university. Figuring out how to include this “missing middle” would be on the team’s agenda.
He pleaded with students not to lose their hard won places at university because of protests.
“Protest by all means. We are concerned that university spaces are very competitive. Students should be careful – those who have been admitted – not to lose those opportunities.” News24