Free ed­u­ca­tion: stu­dents to pay later

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - NONI MOKATI noni.mokati@inl.co.za

VAR­SITY stu­dents set to ben­e­fit from the govern­ment’s no-fee pro­gramme over the next five years are obliged to pay back the money when they com­plete their stud­ies and find work.

This is ac­cord­ing to Deputy Min­is­ter for Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Buti Manamela.

“This is not free ed­u­ca­tion. Although the state is pay­ing for it, stu­dents are ex­pected to per­form well aca­dem­i­cally, and upon com­ple­tion of their degrees, diploma or cer­tifi­cates to do some form of ser­vice to the peo­ple of South Africa, be­cause it is the taxes of the peo­ple of this coun­try which would have paid for that ed­u­ca­tion,” he said.

Manamela was speak­ing in Rand­burg yes­ter­day dur­ing a walkabout at the Depart­ment’s Cen­tral Ap­pli­ca­tion Clear­ing House call cen­tre.

The pur­pose of the visit was to as­sess the on­line ap­pli­ca­tion sys­tem and the progress made by higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions in reg­is­ter­ing prospec­tive stu­dents for the new aca­demic year.

Fol­low­ing Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s an­nounce­ment that govern­ment would foot the bill for the ed­u­ca­tion of stu­dents from poor back­grounds and those from the work­ing class, there has been a great deal of con­fu­sion around who qual­i­fies and where the money will come from, as some ex­perts have al­ready sug­gested that this ap­proach will place a heavy bur­den on the Trea­sury.

“All first-year stu­dents whose joint in­come of their par­ents does not ex­ceed R350 000 per an­num will be guar­an­teed a space at a uni­ver­sity or Tech­ni­cal Vo­ca­tional Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing (TVET) col­leges.

“They will not be ex­pected to pay any fees for the du­ra­tion of the next three to five years. They will also not be re­quired to pay reg­is­tra­tion fees. All fees re­lated to their tu­itions will be paid by the govern­ment through the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (NSFAS),” Manamela said.

He also high­lighted that all stu­dents cur­rently ap­ply­ing to study for a se­cond and third year and who met the re­quire­ment would also be ex­empt from pay­ing fees.

“Any other per­son who wants to study at a higher learn­ing in­sti­tu­tion and does not meet that re­quire­ment will be ex­pected to pay.

“I also want to em­pha­sise that we have to be re­spon­si­ble for com­mu­ni­cat­ing this mes­sage be­cause peo­ple have been say­ing ev­ery­one should go to uni­ver­si­ties and TVET col­leges and de­mand ed­u­ca­tion. That can’t be,” Manamela said.

He was also un­equiv­o­cal in stat­ing that stu­dents who have gone through the sys­tem and pre­vi­ously ben­e­fited from NSFAS were ex­pected to pay back the money.

Manamela also used the plat­form to con­duct a visit at the Uni­ver­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg’s Kingsway Cam­pus in Auck­land Park, where hun­dreds were queue­ing to sub­mit their ap­pli­ca­tions, de­spite uni­ver­si­ties re­fus­ing to ac­cept walk-in ap­pli­ca­tions. He also paid a visit to the South West Gaut­eng Col­lege in Soweto.

“We have spo­ken with the vice-chan­cel­lors, and in as much as we dis­cour­age walk-in ap­pli­ca­tions, if (prospec­tive) stu­dents walk in, we told the uni­ver­si­ties that they should serve them.”

Mean­while, UJ vicechan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Tshilidzi Mar­wala said the uni­ver­sity was pre­pared to ac­cept 10 500 stu­dents who re­cently passed ma­tric.

He also high­lighted that UJ would han­dle the “free ed­u­ca­tion” phe­nom­e­non through NSFAS.

“They will be as­sessed, and if el­i­gi­ble, will be ab­sorbed into all the in­sti­tu­tions that have spa­ces avail­able,” he said.

In the mean­time, ap­pli­ca­tions through the Cen­tral Ap­pli­ca­tion Clear­ing House have been pour­ing in, but of­fi­cials say the sys­tem will cope.

PIC­TURE: ITUMELENG ENGLISH/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ANA

ON THE SAME PAGE: Stu­dent Shirley Nt­sala speaks to Deputy Min­is­ter for Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Buti Manamela at South West Gaut­eng TVET Col­lege yes­ter­day.

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