Free universities from 2011 - Sasco

2010-10-27 20:14

Johannesburg - All matrics should have free university education from 2011, the South African Students Congress said on Wednesday.

"There must be no students that will be excluded on the basis that they cannot afford or they owe fees," Sasco president Mbulelo Mandlana told reporters in Johannesburg.

All matrics who passed and qualified for university entrance should be given the chance of completing a degree.

Mandlana said Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande had promised to give recommendations on how free higher education could be implemented by August 30, but had been quiet until now.

"This was supposed to follow on from the review report on the national student financial aid scheme, which came out in April and was sanctioned by previous minister Naledi Pandor," he said.

"There is no reason why the minister should not tell us what he seeks to do with the report."

Irregularly priced

Mandlana said the review report had found higher education was irregularly priced and not affordable to the working class.

It concluded the student financial aid scheme was inadequate and unsustainable in its current form, in both the way it was structured and operated.

"You have the case of a lot of money not allocated right. There are loopholes in the policy which allow for preferential treatment and corruption. The scheme can ultimately not conclude its functions," Mandlana said.

Sasco had given Nzimande its own recommendations on how free higher education could be implemented.

Education tax

"We gave the concrete suggestion of introducing an education tax on all South Africans through progressive taxation," Sasco secretary-general Lazola Ndamase said.

Mandlana said this tax would allow more students the chance to further their careers through a degree.

"There is the liberal notion that it's not acceptable to have everyone study further... that it is a privilege. Even through privilege, there are not enough bursaries for every matric.

"South Africa is a knowledge economy and not a labour-intensive economy. We need people to have an advanced education, to be productive members of society."

Mandlana said it was a matter of emergency that those who qualified and were ready to go into the system should be given an education.

Entry requirements of universities would also have to be looked at, to allow more deserving matrics entry.

"This is not necessarily dumbing down," he said.