City univer­sity wel­comes fees re­port

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - PATSY BEANGSTROM NEWS ED­I­TOR

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.

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