State ‘cannot afford free tertiary education for all SA students’
JOHANNESBURG — The Heher Commission into the Feasibility of FeeFree Higher Education and Training has found that there is currently no capacity for the state to provide free tertiary education to all students in the country.
“… There is insufficient financial capacity in the state to provide totally free higher education and training to all who are unable to finance their own education, let alone to all students, whether in need or not,” the executive summary of the commission’s report said.
The release comes after President Jacob Zuma was reportedly preparing to announce a plan to introduce feefree tertiary education, which Morris Masutha, the former boy friend of his daughter, had allegedly devised. This plan is allegedly to find R40 billion within the budget to fund a freeeducation policy for families who earn less than R350 000.
The report recommended that undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at both public and private universities and colleges, regardless of their family background, should be funded through a costsharing model of government guaranteed “IncomeContingency Loans” sourced from commercial banks.
The commission recommended that through the model, commercial banks should issue governmentguaranteed loans to students.
This would mean students would have to pay upon graduation and attainment of a specific income threshold.
However, should the student fail to reach the required income threshold, government would bear the secondary liability.
The commission has also recommended that the existing National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) model be replaced with the new Income Contingency Loan system.
The commission further recommend that government consider the introduction of a university fee capping mechanism.
“NSFAS was unlikely to produce a significant proportion of successful students or to improve materially on its present gross inefficiency in the collection of loan debts.”
According to the report, SA needed to improve its Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector to benefit the economy.
“TVET colleges must become institutions of first choice rather than the holding position of secondclass citizens as is presently the case.
“The evidence before the Commission regarding technical education is clear: Successful economies place an emphasis on producing technically qualified, work oriented graduates in numbers which outweigh those of university graduates,” the report states.
Ironically, the TVET sector was negatively affected by the countrywide Fees Must Fall protests by university students in 2015 and 2016.
“The TVET sector experienced budget cuts as a result of the protests, this affected the administration of colleges, but also the students directly as bursary allocations were reduced,” states the report.
The commission has recommended that TVET education should be feefree for all and that stipends be made available, where needed, to cover the fully cost of study.
The commission has also recommended that government increase its expenditure on higher education and training to at least one percent of the GDP. — News24.