Students threaten to shut down Wits
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