Opposition lambasts government for delaying release fees report release

Opposition lambasts government for delaying release fees report release

The Heher commission's report on funding tertiary education has recommended that all undergraduate and postgraduate students be funded through a cost-sharing model of government-guaranteed income-contingency loans sourced from commercial banks.

The rand breached R14.50 to the US dollar on Monday morning as news spread internationally of President Jacob Zuma's plan to push through free higher education, reported Fin24.

The Mail & Guardian newspaper said on Friday the government was considering a range of budget cuts to pay for free tertiary education. The delays in releasing the report have frustrated students and management of university institutions.

"The President must publicly dismiss the weird rumours and confirm whether the recommendations contained in the report will form the basis of a new, sustainable funding model for Higher Education in South Africa".

Among the Commission's recommendations are that government looks into online learning as a solution.

Loans would be provided by commercial banks in a public-private partnership, which the Commission describes as a cost-sharing model.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Higher Education Funding led by the Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, and the Presidential Fiscal Committee led by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba are processing the report, Zuma said.

"I will make a pronouncement on the report once the ministers have concluded their work", he said. "At no stage did he plan to make any announcements that would undermine the work of the Commission".

"The Commission recommended that Government must further investigate the viability of online and blended learning as an alternative in addressing the funding and capacity challenges facing the current higher education and training sector", the report states. The plan outlined by the Heher Commission requires the kind of public goodwill and administrative efficiency that the Zuma government just doesn't have right now.

City Press reported on Sunday that Zuma was looking to find the R40bn shortfall by cutting social grant programmes and increasing Value Added Tax against the advice of National Treasury.

After failing to present the report within the 18-month deadline, the commission had its term extended until June 30, 2017.

In 2015, thousands of students marched in the capital Pretoria to protest against a proposed tuition fee hike for the 2016 academic year.

The protests continued for weeks until Zuma succumbed to students' demand for zero-percent increase in tuition fee.

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