Stu­dents threaten to shut down Wits

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG — Stu­dents at the Uni­ver­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand are di­vided on the way for­ward fol­low­ing Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Min­is­ter Blade Nz­i­mande’s an­nounce­ment of an 8 per­cent cap on fee in­creases, with some call­ing for an im­me­di­ate shut­down of the in­sti­tu­tion.

Stu­dents gath­ered at the in­sti­tu­tion’s Se­nate House, which was re­named Solomon Mahlangu House dur­ing #FeesMustFall protests last year, are con­sult­ing on a way for­ward, with some sug­gest­ing a plan to empty out classes and shut down the campus.

Wits Deputy SRC pres­i­dent Motheo Brody told News24 that stu­dent lead­ers will do what­ever the stu­dents re­quest.

“We will take our lead from the stu­dents, but one thing is for sure, Nz­i­mande’s sug­ges­tion is not ac­cept­able.” Other stu­dents re­fused to protest. “Last year I put my body on the line protest­ing against fees. I will not do that for a 0 per­cent in­crease,” stu­dent ac­tivist Si­mamkele Dlakavu told News24.

Dlakavu at­tempted to ad­dress an­gry stu­dents shortly af­ter Nz­i­mande’s an­nounce­ment.

Mean­while, Nz­i­mande says the govern­ment can­not sub­sidise stu­dents from wealthy fam­i­lies for free ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion.

“It is very un­clear to govern­ment why fam­i­lies who can af­ford pri­vate schools should, un­der the cur­rent cir­cum­stances, be re­ceiv­ing fur­ther state sub­si­dies for their chil­dren at uni­ver­si­ties,” Nz­i­mande said in Pre­to­ria.

“To sub­sidise these stu­dents would re­quire tak­ing fund­ing from the poor to sup­port cheaper higher ed­u­ca­tion for the wealthy, which is not jus­ti­fi­able in a con­text of in­equal­ity in our coun­try. We can­not sub­sidise the child of a cleaner or un­em­ployed per­son in the same way we sub­sidise the child of an ad­vo­cate, doc­tor or in­vest­ment banker.”

Nz­i­mande said they had looked at the chal­lenges at hand from all sides and con­cluded that the best ap­proach would be to al­low in­di­vid­ual uni­ver­si­ties to de­ter­mine the level of the in­creases that their in­sti­tu­tions would re­quire.

“With the cau­tion that this has to also take into ac­count af­ford­abil­ity of stu­dents, and there­fore has to be trans­par­ent, rea­son­able and re­lated to in­fla­tion­linked ad­just­ments, our rec­om­men­da­tion is that the PHILADEL­PHIA — Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign is ag­gres­sively out­work­ing Don­ald Trump in bat­tle­ground Pennsylvania, a state the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man can scarcely af­ford to lose and still hope to be­come pres­i­dent.

De­spite polling well in Pennsylvania through­out the sum­mer, Clin­ton’s team is nev­er­the­less bear­ing down in a state her party has car­ried in six straight elec­tions. They are ratch­et­ing up ad­ver­tis­ing and dis­patch­ing their top sup­port­ers to Pennsylvania, from Bill Clin­ton to Joe Bi­den to last week’s visit from Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

“We’ve got to fight for this thing,” Obama thun­dered at a rally in Philadel­phia last Tues­day. “I need you to work as hard for Hil­lary as you did for me. I need you to knock on doors. I need you to make phone calls. You’ve got to talk to your friends, in­clud­ing your Repub­li­can friends.”

At a min­i­mum, an en­er­gised Pennsylvania cam­paign is a balm for Clin­ton as she weath­ers a dip in na­tional polls and dips in the swing states of Florida and Ohio. But with roughly seven weeks un­til Elec­tion Day, Trump’s scat­ter­shot ap­proach to the state also puts his White House prospects in jeop­ardy.

“There is no Trump turnout or­gan­i­sa­tion, and you can’t con­struct one” in the time re­main­ing, said for­mer Demo­cratic gov­er­nor Ed Ren­dell.

For Trump, nearly any route to the 270 Elec­toral Col­lege votes needed to win the White House in­cludes Pennsylvania’s 20 votes. With Clin­ton’s edge in Colorado and Vir­ginia, and her com­pet­i­tive stand­ing in North Carolina, Trump could po­ten­tially win vote-rich Florida and Ohio, as well as com­pet­i­tive Iowa and New Hamp­shire, and still fall short of the White House un­less he can cap­ture Pennsylvania, too.

Clin­ton’s strat­egy is fo­cused firmly on the east­ern part of the state. Obama won 85 per­cent of the vote in Philadel­phia in 2012, and Clin­ton has her sights set on com­ing as close as she can to his per­for­mance there while also out­per­form­ing Obama in the four sub­ur­ban coun­ties bor­der­ing the city.

Al­most 2 mil­lion votes, or fully one-third of the 5.67 mil­lion pres­i­den­tial votes cast in the state in 2012, came from Philadel­phia plus Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Mont­gomery coun­ties. It’s a re­gion re­plete with mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans strug­gling with the de­ci­sion about whether to sup­port Trump.

Obama sought them out last week as he con­trasted Trump’s crit­i­cism of the na­tion’s path with Ron­ald Rea­gan’s “vi­sion of free­dom”. The mes­sage echoes a Clin­ton tele­vi­sion spot air­ing in the Philadel­phia area fea­tur­ing Rom­ney and Repub­li­can US sen­a­tors blast­ing Trump as un­qual­i­fied for the Oval Of­fice.

That ad is part of Clin­ton’s deep edge over Trump on tele­vi­sion in the state. Her cam­paign and out­side groups help­ing her have spent about $14m on gen­eral elec­tion TV and ra­dio ads through last week, ac­cord­ing to Kan­tar Me­dia’s po­lit­i­cal ad tracker. fee ad­just­ments should not go above 8 per­cent.”

Nz­i­mande said he had con­sulted with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers re­gard­ing what would be best. He said to en­sure that such in­fla­tion-linked fee ad­just­ments of the 2015 fee base­line were affordable to fi­nan­cially needy stu­dents, govern­ment had com­mit­ted to find­ing the re­sources to sup­port them.

He said that the govern­ment would as­sist house­holds with an in­come of up to R600 000 per an­num with sub­sidy fund­ing to cover the gap be­tween the 2015 fee and ad­justed 2017 fee at their in­sti­tu­tion.

“This will be done for fee in­cre­ments up to 8 per­cent. This will, in ef­fect, mean that all NSFAS qual­i­fy­ing stu­dents, as well as the so-called ‘miss­ing mid­dle’ — that is, stu­dents whose fam­i­lies earn above the NSFAS thresh­old, but who are un­able to sup­port their chil­dren to ac­cess higher ed­u­ca­tion — will ex­pe­ri­ence no fee in­crease in 2017. Govern­ment will pay for the fee ad­just­ment,” he said.

Nz­i­mande said while NSFAS would con­tinue to pro­vide loans and bur­saries to poor stu­dents, the Depart­ment of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing and uni­ver­si­ties would con­tinue to mo­bilise in­sti­tu­tional and pri­vate sec­tor fi­nan­cial sup­port to en­able affordable fi­nan­cial aid op­tions for the “miss­ing mid­dle” stu­dents.

He said he had con­sti­tuted the Min­is­te­rial Task Team on fund­ing sup­port for the poor and “miss­ing mid­dle” stu­dents, which is de­vel­op­ing a model that would be tested in 2017 to pro­vide affordable sup­port to these stu­dents.

“We will con­tinue to look for other ways of sup­port­ing fi­nan­cially needy stu­dents not cov­ered by NSFAS, whilst a long-term so­lu­tion is be­ing de­vel­oped to raise suf­fi­cient fund­ing from the pub­lic sec­tor, pri­vate sec­tor and other sources to fund ‘miss­ing mid­dle’ stu­dents at uni­ver­si­ties and TVET col­leges,” he said.—News24

That’s more than triple the ad­ver­tis­ing in­vest­ment Trump and his al­lies made in the same pe­riod.

One pos­si­ble re­sult of the ad­ver­tis­ing gulf is stalled sup­port for Trump among col­lege-ed­u­cated Repub­li­cans who live in the four coun­ties around Philadel­phia. In Mont­gomery County, for ex­am­ple, nearly half of adults have col­lege de­grees com­pared to 26 per­cent statewide.

“Part of the prob­lem he faces is he has built this wall with the col­lege-ed­u­cated vot­ers,” Repub­li­can poll­ster Ed Goeas said. “As much as he’s do­ing bet­ter in other parts of Pennsylvania, when you talk about the sub­urbs, he’s strug­gling to reach nor­mal Repub­li­can lev­els.”

That leaves Trump need­ing to over-per­form in Pennsylvania’s ru­ral ar­eas and work­ing-class cities in the western part of the state. But while Trump’s run­ning mate Mike Pence was in Scran­ton on Wed­nes­day, the same day Trump’s son Don­ald Jnr was in Pitts­burgh, each of Trump’s own three vis­its in the past month have been to Philadel­phia or nearby.

Those vis­its were all small-scale cam­paign events, not one of the sig­na­ture block­buster ral­lies that make for Trump’s chief or­gan­is­ing tool. And as he has in other states, the New Yorker has ceded the vast ma­jor­ity of his get-out­the-vote ef­forts to the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee.

The com­mit­tee touts, as it does in all the tar­geted pres­i­den­tial states, a statewide staff ded­i­cated to reg­is­ter­ing new vot­ers and sway­ing un­de­cided ones. But even they ad­mit Trump faces a “chal­lenge” putting Pennsylvania into the GOP col­umn.

“We have al­ways known it would be a bat­tle in Pennsylvania,” said RNC spokesper­son Rick Gorka.

At Obama’s Tues­day speech, mean­while, 100 Clin­ton staff mem­bers combed the crowd, armed with clip­boards and smart phones, sign­ing up vol­un­teers to make phone calls on Satur­day. They found 750, said Clin­ton’s Pennsylvania di­rec­tor, Corey Dukes.

That’s in ad­di­tion to hun­dreds of neigh­bour­hoodlevel lead­ers and campus teams at Pennsylvania’s le­gion of col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties, in­clud­ing six in Philadel­phia alone.

Dukes said the cam­paign had just signed up its first Asian and Pa­cific Is­lan­der coali­tion. It’s a smaller than those in the bat­tle­ground states of Vir­ginia and Colorado, he said, but it’s one more group signed on to de­liver votes.

Clin­ton her­self was sched­uled to head­line a Philadel­phia cam­paign event yes­ter­day aimed at mo­bil­is­ing young adults.

“We slice it pretty thin,” Dukes said. “Ev­ery­thing we do is to sup­port get­ting bod­ies to our of­fices to com­mit to ac­tion.”

Taken to­gether, Ren­dell said, the con­di­tions are right for Clin­ton to amass a mar­gin in Philadel­phia and the sub­urbs that’s too big for Trump to top else­where.

“If you do the math, there aren’t enough votes in the rest of the state,” Ren­dell said. — AFP

Blade Nz­i­mande

Hil­lary Clin­ton

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