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The University of Cape Town revealed their plans for a proposed 8% increase in tuition fees for next year.

Fee Increase Planned for UCT

In a media briefing held yesterday at the Bremner building on UCT's Middle Campus, Vice-Chancellor Max Price stated that, were fees not to increase, the results would be "devastating".

This as large-scale protests were held at UCT's campuses, with the goal of disrupting academic activity. Excrement was dumped at various locations across the university, which Max Price dubbed a major health risk.

On top of the proposed 8% fee increase, the university also has plans to raise the fees of catered residences by 10%.

Fees to rise by 8, 10% for tuition and residences

The university, Price said, needs to increase fees to combat inflation and the rates of 8 and 10% were chosen specifically for the inflation rate across the education sector.

UCT Executive Media Briefing

In response to a question from News24, Price said that the university has so far spent R24 million on private security in 2017.

A "significant" portion of these costs is covered by UCT's insurance.

R24 million spent on security

Price cited research laboratories as a high-risk location in need of security, as the chemicals housed within could be dangerous to students and staff.

When asked what steps the university is taking to ensure that private security and SAPS forces do not use excessive force against students, Price answered that the presence of video recording equipment such as smart phones and video cameras will place the security forces firmly in the public eye.

The police knowing their actions are in the public eye, Price said, would prevent them from using excessive force.

"Public eye" will prevent violence

One of the core demands of students is that the university address the issues of mental health and the number of suicides among students, especially among black students.

Price responded that UCT's Mental Health Task Team had recommended that the existing services be expanded. There are now 2 psychiatrists on call for res students and an additional 4 psychologists have been employed.

The waiting time to see a psychologist is now down from weeks to days, as Price says the university continues to prioritise mental health.

"One suicide is one too many," Price said.

According to Price, while the situation may look bad it is improving. Statistics for suicides among the age group of students show that the suicide rate on campus is much lower than the suicide rate nationally.

This, Price says, seems to indicate that the mental health services are working.

"One suicide is one too many"

The university is committed to continuing with the academic programme, with Max Price confirming that tests and exams will go ahead. There is simply no room, UCT's executives say, for the academic year to spill over into 2018.

UCT remains open to discuss the issues with students, but asks that the students understand that some demands, such as that Jacob Zuma release the Fees Commission report, are not within their control.

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