University Protests in South Africa

30.11.2016 09:30 - English

Liv Tørres, Executive Director at the Nobel Peace Center, and Professor John Higgins, University of Cape Town, in conversation with Åse Gilje Østensen, CMI.

In 2015 and 2016 South African universities have been affected by some the largest student protests the country has seen since the end of apartheid in 1994.

South Africa is one of the countries with the largest gap between rich and poor in the world, and this gap is largely drawn along racial lines.

The student protests of 2015 started as a move to “decolonize” the higher education system. One big symbolic win was when the statue of British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes was removed from the University of Cape Town Campus in April of last year.

The governments proposal to raise tuition fees for higher educations sparked new protests under the banner #FeesMustFall in 2015. With almost half of the South African population impoverished, most of them black, the students are fighting against higher fees because that would mean that an even larger group of black students would loose access to higher education.

These protests have continued up until today, and some of them have turned violent during the last year.

President Zuma has warned that the protesters, who caused massive damage to university properties during the fall of 2016, could threaten the entire countries higher education system.

We will discuss the protests, their historical backdrop and the future of the South African higher educational system with Professor John Higgins (University of Cape Town) and Liv Tørres (Executive Director, Nobel Peace Center).

Liv Tørres
is Executive Director at the Nobel Peace Center and former Director of Norwegian Peoples Aid (2011-2015). She has been a politician for the Norwegian Labor Party and has lived on and of in South Africa for more than 20 years. She has worked against apartheid and has written her PhD about trade unions and democratic development in South Africa.

John Higgins
is Professor at the Department of English Literature at the University of Cape Town and has been with the department since 1986.


Photo: Tony Carr / Flickr

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Bergen Global
Jekteviksbakken 31, Bergen

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Bergen Global is a joint initiative between the University of Bergen and Chr. Michelsen Institute that addresses global challenges.