State ‘can­not af­ford free ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion for all SA stu­dents’

The Witness - - NEWS -

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.

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