Zuma releases report on feasibility of free higher education in S

Andrew Cummings
November 13, 2017

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges will be the biggest winners if the fees commission report is fully implemented.

Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance says President Jacob Zuma needs to clarify if the Heher Commission report on the funding of higher education will form the basis of his government's policy going forward. Subject to appropriate legislative amendments, the South Africa Revenue Service would collect the repayments through the income tax system.

"I will make a pronouncement on the report once the ministers have concluded their work".

It includes fee-free education for all families earning less than R350,000; full cost of study (accommodation and boarding) for all students qualifying for grants at universities and technical and vocational education colleges; and an increase in the subsidy to universities to 1% of GDP.

Instead, the Commission recommends state-guaranteed loans for university students, to be paid back only when a graduate reaches an acceptable salary level.

The loan-guaranteed model would be applied to undergraduate and post-graduate students as well as students or former students who carry historic indebtedness.

It followed nationwide protests by students using the hashtag #FessMustFall.

The Heher Commission would like to see TVET colleges becoming the "institutions of first choice", providing graduates who are ready for the workplace.

Stipends are also to be made available through TVET colleges for needy students to cover full cost of study.

The Heher Commission said TVET colleges must become institutions of first choice, rather than holding second class positions, as is the case now as they are of benefit to the economy.

The commission report however points out that their model would use SARS for collections and also recommends that R42-billion in long unclaimed pension funds be use as backup funding for the state's liability. "At no stage did he plan to make any announcements that would undermine the work of the Commission".

The Herher Commission has recommended that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas), which now funds university students, be replaced by the income contingent loan system.

Zuma received the final report from the commission on August 30, 2017.

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