Rhodes University on Monday warned its students that continued instability on campus as a result of #FeesMustFall protests may result in the closure of the institution for the rest of the year.
In a letter issued to students by the office of the Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University, the institution in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, pleaded with students to “think hard” about their actions.
“Rhodes University supports the call for free high quality education for the poor. Rhodes University is working tirelessly together with other universities to lobby government for exactly this,” the university said in the letter.
“Continued instability will destroy our higher education system. If normal activities cannot continue next week, the University will be left with no option but to close and send all students home.”
Last week, the university welcomed an announcement by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande recommending that tertiary institutions should individually determine fee increases for 2017, but to cap it at eight percent for students who could afford to pay.
The new fee structure was designed so that students whose family income is R600,000 or less would have no fee increase in 2017, as the state would cover the increase.
Rhodes University said should the public higher education collapse, it would be the poor and the working class families who bore the brunt of a dysfunctional higher education of dubious quality, while the rich would send their children to private or overseas universities.
But since the announcement that universities should determine their fees for 2017, students across the country have gone on the rampage, burning buildings and torching cars in their bid to demand completely free higher education.
This has brought the whole tertiary education system to a complete halt throughout the country as protests have made teaching and learning untenable, resulting in postponements and suspensions of academic activities.
Rhodes University said closure of its doors would have dire consequences for everyone involved.
“The closure of the University will have dire consequences for the town, for all University staff, and for students themselves who will not be able to complete the academic year.”
The university said the primary cause of the crisis faced by the higher education system was its chronic underfunding over a long period of time.
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