South Africa 'cannot afford to provide free higher education'

South Africa 'cannot afford to provide free higher education'

The long-awaited fees report has finally been released.

Students were planning a national day of action as their demands for Zuma to release the much-awaited Fees Commission Report intensified.

The Heher Commission report, as expected, announced that free higher education for all was not feasible as the country could not afford it.

The Commission recommends that all undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at both public and private universities and colleges, regardless of their family background, be funded through a cost-sharing model of government guaranteed Income-Contingency Loans sourced from commercial banks.

"Through this cost-sharing model, the commission recommends that commercial banks issue government-guaranteed loans to the students that are payable by the student upon graduation and attainment of a specific income threshold".

It followed nationwide protests by students using the hashtag #FessMustFall.

According Hefer's report, the Technical and Vocational Education Training Colleges Governor's Council had submitted that it was underfunded by nearly R4.7bn in 2016.

TVET graduates have a lower earning power and suffer challenges with their employability, the Commission found.

In an effort to make technical and vocational tertiary education more appealing, the report also recommends that TVET students be given stipends where needed, which would cover the full cost of study.

The Commission recommended for the application and registration fees to be scrapped across the board.

The Commission says it recognises the right to further education for all and the constitutional duty of the State to make such education "progressively available and accessible through reasonable measures". The only option, he said, was to rein in public spending, and that was before he had to factor in the state potentially taking on student debt.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, Zuma said an inter-ministerial committee, led by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe and Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba, would be "processing" the report before "a pronouncement" is made.

President Jacob Zuma's plan to announce free higher education generated panic among senior officials in Treasury including threats of resignations, the Sunday Times reported.

Produced for GroundUp by Notes from the House.

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