These protests are becoming a playground for ‘professional’ ...

Ideas

These protests are becoming a playground for ‘professional’ students

The sheer arrogance and absurdity of some of the 15 demands is nothing short of astounding

Columnist

If universities gave in to the 15 demands of the South African Union of Students (SAUS), our higher education institutions would collapse overnight. Nobody pays. No registration fees. No fee increases. Abolition of all debt. Postgraduate students funded. Laptops for everyone. The full return of all students under level one lockdown. No academic exclusions. It is the sheer arrogance of these demands that will astound the taxpaying public.

None of these student leaders would try a stunt like this in their coming private or public sector jobs, for the simple reason that they would be fired on the spot before a single tyre was set alight. But universities have become the political playground for reckless politics and endless demands, regardless of affordability or anything approaching reasonableness. No doubt the tragic police shooting of Mthokozisi Ntumba during the Wits student protests opened up the political and emotional space for these extravagant demands.

As always happens, legitimate student concerns are mixed up with profligate demands. The issue of student debt is the single most important burden faced by poor students right now. If historical debt stands at R13bn as now projected, then that problem must urgently be resolved, because it blocks access to continuing studies and transfers the burden of debt intergenerationally; that is not good for the education of the youth, nor is it good for the families of students...

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