Free education: students to pay later
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.
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.