Prof Mkhize cautions against hasty fees decisions
THE Minister of Higher Education and Training, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, said government must be given space to weigh up all the aspects of recommendations in the fees commission report.
Mkhize said she does not believe the government’s decision would harm the students.
“Government must have the space to conduct thorough due diligence and to weigh up all aspects of the proposals, including their possible knockon effects, so that the President can announce a way forward that is able to ensure we empower future generations of young people through knowledge and skills, thereby empowering their families and communities too,” she said.
She said all should note that the report does not pronounce on anything as it does not contain any decisions but it provides government with recommendations only.
Mkhize said the decision still has to be made by government but she will work closely with the InterMinisterial Committee on Higher Education Funding and the Presidential Fiscal Committee tasked by the President to process the report in detail.
“The release of the report will provide an opportunity for the academic, student, and broader communities to study it and to familiarise themselves with the detail of Judge Heher’s findings, proposals, and alternative scenarios. This will ensure that comment and discussion can take place against an informed backdrop and not on the basis of speculation,” she said.
The long awaited report dismissed the notion of free university education and instead proposed that the national student financial aid scheme (NSFAS) be replaced by a cost sharing model,where commercial banks will issue government guaranteed loans to students which will be repayable upon graduation and attainment of a specific income threshold.
“The policy decisions we make, having considered the recommendations in the report, must lead to sustainable solutions that will endure for many years to come,” Mkhize said.
She urged student leaders and management to ensure a peaceful end to the academic year.
Meanwhile, the South African Students Congress (Sasco) said the 2018 academic year will not commence unless free education is declared.
“We won’t meet with any Minister of Education to discuss. They must tell us how are they going to provide Free Education, not this bank thing. The instruction to our structures is that the 2018 academic year must not commence unless there is free education,” Sasco said
Sasco said the government must implement first phase of free education by 2018 through forcing the private sector to contribute and increasing government allocation towards education and scraping application and registration fees.
“We are perplexed at recommendation that students with historical debt must be offered income contingent loans. This sentences students to a life of debt.
The 1% expenditure of GDP on higher education proposal is sheer mediocrity,” Sasco said.
DUE DILIGENCE: Minister of Higher Education and Training Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize says government must weigh up all aspects of the report.