The SRC has called for a march to the Department of Higher Education to demand fully subsidised higher education for all financial needy and academically deserving students.

“We have once again realised there is an overwhelming amount of students who are academically deserving but due to their socio-economic background cannot access the doors of learning,” said SRC president Morris Masutha. “This has to stop and it has to stop today!”

In a widely circulated statement, the SRC said raising tuition fees was “a direct exclusion mechanism used by those who benefit from commercialisation of higher education across the country”.

It pointed out that in 2004 the registration fee at Wits was just over R2000. Today students pay R7300. Masutha said the demand for financial aid (NFSAS) at Wits this year is R230-million, but with government only allocating R160-million to the university, thousands of students are left unable to access learning.

Masutha said Minister Blade Nzimande needed to be reminded of the reason he was appointed. “We deployed Nzimande to go and implement our mandate as young people, and no student from 2012 onwards should be denied access to higher education due to their financial background,” he said.

Masutha is also chairperson of the South African Students Congress (Sasco) at Wits and has been a long-standing advocate in the fight for fully subsidised higher education.

“We need to stand up as students across political, religious and racial lines and fight against this commercialisation of higher education where students are treated like clients. We need to remind our government what its priority is.

“If we don’t stand up as an academic community, no one will. If we do not stand up for one another, no one will stand up for us.”

“We need to convince society that education is the only investment that can solve all the social ills facing of country.