The DA welcomes the Presidency’s eventual release of the Fees Commission Report, after our continued pressure upon it to do so, as well as following our application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
We note that the Report does not endorse fully fee-free education for all, and indeed is explicit in its conclusion that free higher education for all is not required by the Constitution.
The Commission has developed a multi-layered model for recapitalising higher education, across both TVETs and Universities, for reconfiguring NSFAS, and for supporting students who cannot afford Higher Education, whether they are from the poorest backgrounds or middle-level backgrounds, through a combination of loans, bursaries, and scholarships, with the participation of the private sector at all levels.
We welcome the professionalism and richness of the Report and look forward to studying it further.
The President, who has been studying the report for more than two months now, must tell South Africa whether or not this report will form the basis of the ANC government’s new funding model for Higher Education.
Bizarre rumours have been swirling that President Zuma is intending to bypass this multi-million rand report in favour of an amateur, populist funding model that entails the crude introduction of a R40 billion boost to student funding, to be financed through such drastic measures as the undermining of the role of Treasury, the possible cutting of social grants and an increase in VAT, with little consideration given to all the other issues at stake.
Even more concerning is that this model seems to emanate from a student who is also, it is said, the President’s soon-to-be son-in-law.
Ordinarily, these rumours could be dismissed with the contempt they deserve, but we have seen, time and time again, that President Zuma will put his own interests above the best interests of South Africans. If he sees it as being in his interests to give priority to a populist and unsustainable proposal, over a taxpayer-funded, professionally produced Commission, he might well do so. This is a chilling possibility.
The delay in the release of the report has already caused millions of University and TVET students’ considerable distress, as they were left to wonder about financing the start of the 2018 academic year. It has meant that Universities have not been able to set fees for next year. It is time for this uncertainty to end.
The President must publically dismiss the bizarre 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.