City university welcomes fees report
THE RELEASE of the Presidential Commission report on higher education fees yesterday has been welcomed by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Sol Plaatje University, Professor Yunus Ballim.
Ballim said yesterday that the release of the report provided better clarity on the process to be followed in considering and responding to the commission’s recommendations.
“We have yet to fully study and consider the report but our preliminary scan of the recommendations is that they provide some comfort while leaving some questions unanswered,” Ballim pointed out.
“The recommendation to fund higher education at one percent of GDP signals a positive step forward. On the other hand, we will need to fully understand the operation of the Income Contingent Loan to respond to its implication for our students, who are largely in the group that find it difficult to fund their studies.”
In a statement issued yesterday, Universities SA (USAf) said that although it was pleased that the Report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training had been released, it was perplexed by the timing of the release in the midst of the examination period.
“We are also disappointed that there are no clear process steps,” USAf stated, pointing out that there were no timelines attached, which raised much uncertainty. “For instance, will there be a solution to the many questions still in abeyance for the 2018 academic year?”
USAf added that the reaffirmation of the right of all South Africans to access higher education was important.
“It places an important responsibility on the whole of our society to ensure that this right is progressively attained. In the light of the high levels of inequality and poverty, the role of universities in creating real opportunities for social mobility and shaping more equal societies is fundamentally important.”
USAf also supported the recommendations that the TVET College sector should be singled out for substantial investment.
“The future sustainability of the higher education system is tied to a properly functioning and articulated post-school education and training sector. This will help enormously to address the inverted pyramid model we have in the post-school education and training sector, with too many students in universities relative to the TVET College sector.”
It stated further that the crisis in the funding of higher education had been ongoing for several years with a decline in real terms in the size of the subsidy for full-time equivalent student.
“The above-inflation increases in tuition fees is a direct outcome of this decline. The recommendation of pegging the subsidy funding of the state to universities at one percent of GDP will make a major difference to this scenario and will certainly be an important consideration. At the moment, the subsidy funding to universities sits at between 0.6 and 0.7 percent of GDP.”
USAf also supports the proposal around tax concessions in favour of the private sector investing in university infrastructure.