Academics support student struggle: Democratise higher education now

From Johannesburg to Cape Town (above), Fees protests have swept across the country. (David Harrison, MG)

From Johannesburg to Cape Town (above), Fees protests have swept across the country. (David Harrison, MG)

A collective statement from academics at South African institutions of higher education.

As academics in South African institutions of higher education, we stand with students in their fight for the democratisation of our universities. The current student protests that have erupted across the country are historic. They demonstrate a younger generation willing to take up the struggle against inequality, and to insist on the principle of education for all. Our students are leading the national debate on education, and we insist that they deserve our respect and attention. 

We have witnessed students act with extraordinary discipline, tactical skill and moral purpose. This commitment and self-control has gone unseen by many university managers, government leaders and the media who have misrepresented students as uninformed, irresponsible or irrational. Protesting students have faced and overcome potentially divisive tensions within their ranks, and have shown maturity in their intellectual arguments and political interventions. Above all, they have required us to confront a grievous national problem: the persistent exclusion of those who are black and poor from higher education, and from the opportunities that higher education makes possible. 

We strongly object to the manner in which university managements have criminalised student protest. We strongly object to the continued use of repressive force to harm and intimidate students and to belittle their demands and experiences. Any viable leadership of higher education should be listening to and amplifying student voices. Instead we are in the midst of a leadership crisis where Vice-Chancellors and government ministers pass the buck back and forth and no-one is willing to take responsibility for changing the untenable conditions of higher education. Current student protest is a direct consequence of the manner in which university governance has underestimated proper consultation and work with students and other constituencies of our universities. 

Students are insisting that a frank national debate be opened on both the funding and orientation of higher education. We reiterate the urgency of this debate, and call on our Vice-Chancellors, the Department of Higher Education and Training and National Treasury to understand that creative alternatives are now both urgent and essential. We cannot continue as usual. We are no longer in a moment in which we can quibble over percentages. We watch, year on year, as public funding of higher education is diminished, effectively turning our universities into semi-private institutions. We can no longer in good faith call them public universities, as student fees escalate, along with student debt, as workers are outsourced to private companies, large bonuses are paid to senior administrators, and academic life is increasingly corporatised. 

South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world. It is no longer tenable that the burden of balancing the university ledger be placed on the backs of the poorest students and the worst-paid workers who have the least capacity to bear it. The current system of funding students is dysfunctional and ineffective. Unequal access to higher education can only be addressed in one way: to make our universities fully publicly funded by government. We argue that the value of democratic, independent universities to the public good cannot be underestimated and that solutions to the funding crisis, such as a national wealth tax and/or graduate tax, are necessary. 

We salute our students in their principled call for fully-funded transformative education, we call for a radical reinvestment in public universities by all who manage, work and study in them, and we commit ourselves and our work to the creation of a society in which all can thrive. 

To add your name in support, please go to http://www.amandla.mobi/student_struggle For media enquiries please contact Kelly Gillespie – Kelly. [email protected], Shireen Ally – [email protected] or Prishani Naidoo – [email protected] 

Kelly Gillespie (Wits), Prishani Naidoo (Wits), Zimitri Erasmus (Wits), Danai Mupotsa (Wits), Joel Quirk (Wits), Lerato Makate (Wits), Ahmed Veriava (Wits), Mehita Iqani (Wits), Nicky Falkof (Wits), David Dickenson (Wits), Tshepo Moloi (Wits), Fiona Horne (Wits), Anne Heffernan (Wits), Peace Kiguwa (Wits), Antje Schuhmann (Wits), Mwenya Kabwe (Wits), Arianna Lissoni (Wits), Cheryl Chamberlain (Wits), Becky Walker (Wits), Bettina Malcomess (Wits), Cathi Albertyn (Wits), Bridget Kenny (Wits), Mzikazi Nduna (wits), Stacey Sommerdyk (Wits), Noor Nieftagodien (Wits), David Hornsby (Wits), Pumla Gqola (Wits), Hylton White (Wits), Jill Bradbury (Wits), Sharad Chari (Wits), Shireen Hassim (Wits), Mpho Matsipa (Wits), Julia Hornberger (Wits), Ingrid Palmary (Wits), Rejane Williams (Wits), Edmarie Pretoria (Wits), Makhaola Ndebele (Wits), Lorena Nunez Carrasco (Wits), Melanie Samson (Wits), Srila Roy (Wits), Stefania Merlo (Wits), Sara Nieuwoudt (Wits), Garth Stevens (Wits), Jean Pierre Misago (Wits), Dineo Skosana (Wits), Warren Nebe (Wits), Avril Joffe (Wits), Timothy Wright (Wits), Marie Huchzermeyer (Wits), Jo Veary (Wits), Polo Moji (Wits), Mucha Musemwa (Wits), Maria Suriano (Wits), Dorothee Kreutzfeldt (Wits), Franziska Rueedi (Wits), Zen Marie (Wits), Catherine Duncan (Wits), Emma Coleman (Wits), Amanda Williamson (Wits), Lindelwa Dalamba (Wits), Justine Wintjes (Wits), Ray Kekwaletswe (Wits), Mikatekiso Kubayi (Wits), Joni Barnard (Wits), Elizaveta Fouksman (Wits), Haseenah Ebrahim (Wits), Hugo Canham (Wits), Margot Rubin (Wits),Mzikazi Nduna (Wits), Malose Langa (Wits), Nkululeko Nkomo (Wits), Neil Klug (Wits), Antonio Lentoor (Wits), Ruby Patel (Wits), Bheki Ndlovu (Wits), Juan Orrantia (Wits), Gina Snyman (Wits), Julian Brown (Wits), Colette Gordon (Wits), Elizabeth Picarra (Wits), Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon (Wits), Naadira Patel (Wits), Ismail Munshi (Wits), Shireen Ally (Wits), Eric Worby (Wits), Nicolas Pons-Vignon (Wits), Zaheera Jinnah (Wits), Antonio Lenton (Wits), Charne Lavery (Wits), Aly Karam (Wits), Heather Thompson (Wits), Stacey Vorster (Wits), Alex Wafer (Wits), Stephen Louw (Wits), Nkululeko Nkomo (Wits), Brett Bowman (Wits), Tommaso Milani (Wits), David Andrew (Wits), Laurel Baldwin-Ragaven (Wits), Pamila Gupta (Wits), Anywynne Kern (Wits), Kezia Lewins (Wits), Thea de Gruchy (Wits), Simon van Schalkwyk (Wits), Andrew MacDonald (Wits), Hannah Dawson (Wits), Elhadi Adam (Wits), Antonio Lentoor (Wits), Dinesh Balliah (Wits), Makhosazana Xaba (Wits), Cherae Halley (Wits), Caryn Green (Wits), Sibongile Bhebhe (Wits), Tamara Guhrs (Wits), Kathy Barolsky (Wits), Natasha Mazonde (Wits), Ella Kotze (Wits), Heather Schiff (Wits), Moses Rasekele (Wits), Brett Pyper (Wits), Tshego Khutsoane (Wits), Tarryn Lee (Wits), Megan Godsell (Wits), Brian Boshoff (Wits), Refiloe Lepere (Wits), Monique Hill (Wits), Rafaela Denhill (Wits), Ariane Janse van Rensburg (Wits), Sian Palmer (Wits), Petro Janse Van Vuuren (Wits), Hamish Neill (Wits), Munyaradzi Chatikobo, (Wits), Evans Mathibe (Wits), Grant Olwage (Wits), Limpho Kou (Wits), Sarah Woodward (Wits), Jessica Denyschen (Wits), Rachel Ceasar (Wits), Antje Schuhmann (Wits), Charley Lewis (Wits), Rangoato Hlasane (Wits), Jeff Handmaker (Wits), Donato Somma (Wits), Jessica S. Ruthven (Wits), Daria Trentini (Wits), Christopher Letcher (Wits), David Wilkins (Wits), Matthew Evans (Wits), Victoria Hume (Wits), Achille Mbembe (Wits), Bronwyn Law-Viljoen (Wits), Nereida Ripero-Muniz (Wits), Jonathan Crossley (Wits), Kirsten Dörmann (Wits), Mary Carman (Wits), Benita De Robillard (Wits), Ashraf Coovadia (Wits), Nqobile Malaza (Wits), Costanza La Mantia (Wits), Emma Monama (Wits), Innocentia Mhlambi (Wits), Fiona Baine (Wits), Luke Buckland (Wits), Sarah Emily Duff (Wits), Chris Thurman (Wits), Gilad Isaacs (Wits), Alberto Arribas (Wits), Alvaro Veliz-Osorio (Wits), Sarah Nuttall (Wits), Susann Huschke (Wits), Ruari-Santiago McBride (Wits), Gaelene Kramers (Wits), Hanli Geyser (Wits), Anitra Nettleton (Wits), Kenneth Kaplan (Wits), Alexandra Parker (Wits), Petro Janse van Vuuren (Wits), Elsje Bonthuys (Wits), Laetitia Rispel (Wits), Sarah Chiumbu (HSRC/Wits), Salim Vally (UJ), Claire Ceruti (UJ), Brendon Barnes (UJ), Naiefa Rashied (UJ), Robyn Cook (UJ), Carin Runciman (UJ), Sikhumbuzo Mngadi (UJ), Lauren Graham (UJ), Chana Teeger (UJ), Pragna Rugunanan (UJ), Judith Fessehaie (UJ), Anna Hedlund (UJ), Linda Chisholm (UJ), Natasha Erlank (UJ), Mathaba Machodi (UJ), Pier Paolo Frassinelli (UJ), Mohamed Belaid (UJ), Dirk Postma (UJ), Kim Baldry (UJ), Estelle Prinsloo (UJ), Zoheb Khan (UJ), Lauren Basson (UJ), Thea De Wet (UJ),Boikanyo Moloto (UJ), Carina van Rooyen (UJ), Bridget Grogan (UJ), Colin Chasi (UJ), Tessa Hochfeld  (UJ), Thabo Tsehloane (UJ), Ayesha Omar (UJ), Britt Baatjes (UJ), Zoheb Khan (UJ), Brenden Gray (UJ), Koni Benson (UCT), Carla Tsampiras (UCT), Michael Coombes (UCT), Kosheek Sewchurran (UCT), Martha Evans (UCT), Ermien van Pletzen (UCT), Glenda Daniels (Wits), Yaliwe Clarke (UCT), Floretta Boonzaier (UCT), Maanda Mulaudzi (UCT), Jane Bennett (UCT), Kathryn Stinson (UCT), Chris Ouma (UCT), Mbongiseni Buthelezi (UCT), Lesley Green (UCT), Kate Angier (UCT), Fiona Ross (UCT), Shose Kessi (UCT), Shaheen Mowla (UCT), Lance van Sittert (UCT), Lucia Thesen (UCT), Caroline Skinner (UCT), Elena Moore (UCT), Sarah Crawford-Browne (UCT), Pippin Anderson (UCT), Susan MalcolmSmith (UCT), Mohamed Adhikari (UCT), Marion Stevens (UCT), Marion Walton (UCT), Mathilde van der Merwe (UCT), Catherine Ward (UCT), Aninka Claassens (UCT), Kate Abney (UCT), Henrik Ernstson (UCT), Loretta Feris (UCT), Visseho Adjiwanou (UCT), Jacques Rousseau (UCT), Tanja Bosch (UCT), Meg Samuelson (UCT), Kristen Daskilewicz (UCT), Talia Meer (UCT), Alex Muller (UCT), Bianca Tame (UCT), Nico Fischer (UCT), Asanda Benya (UCT), Xolelwa Kashe-Katiya (UCT), Zethu Matebeni (UCT), Ana Deumert (UCT), Linda Cooper (UCT), Marguerite Schneider (UCT), Neil Overy (UCT), Victoria CollisButhelezi (UCT), Zwelethu Jolobe (UCT), Clare Verbeek (UCT), Sean Field (UCT), Wendy Burgers (UCT), Grant McNulty (UCT), Adam Haupt (UCT), Melanie Alperstein (UCT), Asanda Benya (UCT), Dr Joanne Hardman (UCT), Salma Ismail (UCT), Shamil Jeppe (UCT), Hussein Suleman (UCT), Sandra Young (UCT), Khwezi Mkhize (UCT), Zarina Patel (UCT), Herman Wasserman (UCT), Roshan Galvaan (UCT), Indresan Govender (UCT), Liesl Peters (UCT), Tom Moultrie (UCT), Nomusa Makhubu (UCT), Muazzam Jacobs (UCT), Kelly Moult (UCT), Xolela Mangcu (UCT), Mariette Momberg (UCT), Khosi Kubeka (UCT), Hedley Twidle (UCT), Alexia Smit (UCT), Tracy Craig (UCT), Erica Breuer (UCT), Collet Dandara (UCT), Mantoa Rose Smouse (UCT), Rajend Mesthrie (UCT), Carolyn McKinney (UCT), Debbie Kaminer (UCT), Kurt April (UCT) , Claire Benit-Gbaffou (UCT), Liza Rose Cirolia (UCT), Divine Fuh (UCT), Ian-Malcolm Rijsdijk (UCT), Liza Rose Cirolia (UCT), Pieter Levecque (UCT), Owen Crankshaw (UCT), Tania Katzschner (UCT), Pieter Levecque (UCT), Justine Burns (UCT), Shannon Morreira (UCT), B Camminga (UCT), Tom Scriba (UCT), Lauren Paremoer (UCT), Jenni Case (UCT), Rajen Govender (UCT), Jumani Clarke (UCT), Alison Swartz (UCT), Nick Shepherd (UCT), Femke Brandt (UCT), Helen MacDonald (UCT), Andrew Nash (UCT), Despina Learmonth (UCT), Bianca Tame (UCT) , Asanda Benya (UCT), Wahbie Long (UCT), David Jacobs (UCT), Sara Matchett (UCT), Barbara Boswell (UCT), Waheeda Amien (UCT), Jonathan Shock (UCT), Riashna Sithaldeen (UCT), Sue Parnell (UCT), Thandi Davies (UCT), Rachel Wynberg (UCT), Maria Keet (UCT), Stefanie Röhrs (UCT), Mariola Kirova (UCT), Katharine Hall (UCT), David Maralack (UCT), Harsha Kathard (UCT), Dirk Lang (UCT), Alan Cliff (UCT)Roisin Kelly-Laubscher (UCT), Stephen Inggs (UCT), Kieran Reid (UCT), Sheetal Silal (UCT), Kehinde Awodele (UCT), Sumaiyah Docrat (UCT), Bernard Dubbeld (U Stellenbosch), Kylie Thomas (U Stellenbosch), Ronelle Carolissen U SStellenbosch), Bonga Chiliza (U Stellenbosch), António Tomás (U Stellenbosch), Lieketseng Ned (U Stellenbosch), Sandra Swart (U Stellenbosch), Joanna Wheeler (U Stellenbosch), Rob Pattman (U Stellenbosch), Grace Musila (U Stellenbosch), Gabeba Baderoon (U Stellenbosch), Thomas Cousins (U Stellenbosch), Steven Robins (U Stellenbosch), Jantjie Xaba (U Stellenbosch), Rose Richards (U Stellenbosch), Daniel Roux (U Stellenbosch), Kira Erwin (DUT), Nicky Germond Muller (DUT), Sultan Khan (UKZN), Moraig Peden (UKZN), Kerry Frizelle (UKZN), Ayanda Khala-Phiri (UKZN), Jane Quin (UKZN) , Fiona Jackson (UKZN), Anne Harley (UKZN), Christopher Gevers (UKZN), Grahame Hayes (UKZN), Patrick Bond (UKZN), Lubna Nadvi (UZKN), David Fraser Brown (UKZN), Pumelela Nqelenga (UKZN), Peter Rule (UKZN), Pumelela Nqelenga (UKZN), Tamantha Hammerschlag (UKZN), Myer Taub (U Pretoria), Irma du Plessis (U Pretoria), Malehoko Tshoaedi (U Pretoria), Johann Meylahn (U Pretoria), Vuyani Vellem (U Pretoria), Nisa Paleker (U Pretoria), Akinola Akintayo (U Pretoria), Cas Wepener (U Pretoria), Ulrike Kistner (U Pretoria)Corrine Knowles (Rhodes), Pedro Tabensky (Rhodes), Natalie Donaldson (Rhodes), Alette Schoon (Rhodes), Sally Matthews (Rhodes), Detlev Krige (U Pretoria), Brian Ramadiro (Fort Hare), Hugh Macmillan (UWC), Melanie Judge (UWC), Ciraj Rasool (UWC), Patricia Hayes (UWC), Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie (UWC), Heike Becker (UWC), Fairuz Mullagee (UWC), Paolo Israel (UWC), Shirley Brooks (UWC), Tamara Shefer (UWC), Vivienne Bozalek (UWC), Heidi Grunebaum (UWC), Catherine Kell (UWC), Priscilla Boshoff (Rhodes), Sioux Mckenna (Rhodes), Peter du Toit (Rhodes), Rod Amner (Rhodes),Nosipho Mngomezulu (Rhodes), Ruth Simbao (Rhodes), Anthea Garman (Rhodes), Nyx McLean (Rhodes), Alexandra Sutherland (Rhodes), Shepi Mati (Rhodes), Anna Christensen (Rhodes), Nick Hamer (Rhodes), David Fryer (Rhodes), Deborah Seddon (Rhodes), Niki Cattaneo (Rhodes), Susanne Vetter (Rhodes), Vashna Jagarnath (Rhodes), Richard Pithouse (Rhodes), Brian Garman (Rhodes), Ed de la Rey (Rhodes), Simon Pamphilon (Rhodes), Lucien van der  Walt (Rhodes), Nicole Ulrich (Rhodes), Thierry Luescher (U Free State), Neil Roos (U Free State), Nomboniso Gasa (independent scholar), Lynn Coleman (CPUT), Alex Noble (CPUT), Lesley Powell (NMMU), Janet Cherry (NMMU), Robin Notshulwana (NMMU), Deidre Geduld (NMMU), Ivor Baatjes (NMMU), Sonya Leurquain-Steyn (NMMU), Kiran Odhav (North West), Theresa Edlmann (UNISA), Nicholas Southey (UNISA), Pat Gibbs (UNISA), Raymond Suttner (UNISA), Aslam Fataar (SAERA) , Lesley Wood (SAERA), Carol Bertram (SAERA), Labby Ramrathan (SAERA), Volker Wedekind (SAERA), Azeem Badroodien (SAERA).

 

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