Wits University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Adam Habib says he is concerned that students will jeopardise the academic future of many if they continue their protest.
He says the last couple of days have been an emotional roller coaster ride for everybody concerned.
“All of us have to learn lessons here. Students have to ask the hard question: what are the parameters of acceptable protest. Yes, you’re entitled to protest but what about the rights of others?”
President Jacob Zuma announced on Friday that university fees would not increase next year.
Meanwhile, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande is meeting university student leaders to discuss a decision by students not to abandon their “Fees Must Fall” campaign.
Nzimande has been quoted as saying he doesn’t know where the money will come to fund students.
Nzimande’s spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana says the minister wants academic programmes to resume.
Habib says he would like to see the students go back to lectures and not lose out on the rest of this year.
“It is absolutely true that the students have said they’re not being heard, that there is a trust deficit between them and universities there is a trust deficit we’re all confronted with.”
He says these challenges that the students have brought to the foreground need to be discussed and debated with all stakeholders including government.
“All universities can survive with 0% increase if government comes to the party.”
Habib adds: “If we destroy the universities, then we will destroy the one university system that works on the continent. And that would be a tragedy.”