The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has called on protesting university students in South AFrica to allow peace to prevail over the exam period for students who have opted to write.

The chairperson of the committee, Connie September, said they have noted the relative calm at most university. Most institutions have been able to finish lectures and start examinations, despite disturbances.

“We should all commit to ensuring that most students succeed in this academic year. No one student should interfere with another’s right to write exams. Those that are on the verge of graduating should be allowed to write without problems, as their skills are needed in the economy,” September said.

She urged communities to help the Inter-Ministerial Task Team to find a solution to the higher education crisis.

“The committee maintains its position that poor students and the category of the missing middle will be taken care of in 2017 and no single student will be turned away from university on financial grounds,” she said.

She called on universities to provide all the necessary assistance and support to protesting students when they decide to write exams.

“Vice chancellors should ensure that students are not victimised for having been part of the protests. The students’ demands are legitimate.”

September voiced concern about the situation in the Western Cape, where violence is still a challenge. She urged students to finish the academic year.

Most universities have been able to finish their academic programmes and have started exams, while some announced last week that they have abandoned face-to-face teaching for the year.

Tabling his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) in Parliament last week, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said universities and students will receive an additional R17 billion — R9 billion for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and over R8 billion to meet the costs of fee increases for students from households with incomes up to R600 000.