Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Free Higher Education on hold as Zuma releases Fees Commission report

Free Higher Education on hold as Zuma releases Fees Commission report

Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance says President Jacob Zuma needs to clarify if the Heher Commission report on the funding of higher education will form the basis of his government's policy going forward.

South Africa's High Court reinstated the 783 charges past year and the Supreme Court upheld that decision in October, rejecting an appeal by Zuma.

Zuma has been sitting on the Heher report since receiving it on August 30 and has defied calls to release it from university institutions, opposition parties, and even the axed Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande.

Universal free tertiary education will not be feasible in the foreseeable future, and different funding models should be adopted to ensure access for all deserving students, according to the Heher commission's recommendations.

Instead, the Commission recommends state-guaranteed loans for university students, to be paid back only when a graduate reaches an acceptable salary level.

All undergraduate and postgraduate student fees should be funded through a cost-sharing model, in which commercial banks would issue government-guaranteed loans to students that are payable upon their graduation.

It followed nationwide protests by students using the hashtag #FessMustFall. Part of the 12-point plan makes allowances for income thresholds - so if a graduate isn't making a certain amount of money when they find employment, they won't have to start their loan repayments.

The Commission recommended for the application and registration fees to be scrapped across the board. They are also planning to increase student accommodation, in a programme which would prioritise 'historically disadvantaged students'. It suggests the creation of an education fund to which companies, individuals, worldwide aid agencies, and others could donate towards the development of higher education. President Jacob Zuma has appointed two committees, led by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, to consider the recommendations made by the Commission and his response will be released once the ministers have concluded their work.

To implement this model, the commission recommended that the existing National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) model be replaced by the new income contingency loan system.

Produced for GroundUp by Notes from the House.

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