Decision on fee increases before month end - Nzimande

2016-08-15 16:33
Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

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Johannesburg - A decision on university fee increases for 2017 will be made before the end of the month, Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande said on Monday.

"Within the next week or two, we should have arrived at a common understanding as to what is going to happen in 2017... There must be certainty for students, there must be certainty for universities," he said. 

Nzimande said he had taken no decision regarding fee increases. 

"The people who claim that I recommended or agreed to a particular figure of fee increase, they must speak for themselves - there is no such."

He said the unintended consequences of this year's no fee increase, following a countrywide strike last year, was that "rich parents and companies that give bursaries" who could afford the increase, "get away with it". 

Pressure is mounting on Nzimande's department as student leaders plan to begin consultations and mass meetings on Monday to pave a way forward on the issue of student fees.

The South African Union of Students (SAUS), which claims to be the largest federation of student governance representation, says it has lost patience with government and will accept nothing but a 0% fee increase in all universities in 2017.

Call for calm

While government deliberates over next year's university fees, student leaders have threatened to shut down universities across the country should the government implement a fee increase.

Nzimande received a report from the Council on Higher Education on recommendations for 2017 fee adjustments on Thursday, and decided that further consultation was required. He had been expected to make an announcement on Friday, but the briefing was cancelled.

The minister said on Monday that the consultative process with stakeholders on the fees was progressing smoothly. 

"There was a legitimate concern from students and many other stakeholders that it's like there are no rules when and by how university raise fees. There was general agreement that we need to find a mechanism. I asked the council of higher education to look into this matter but to do it in two phases," he said. 

Phase one would be for advice on what the fee increase could be, and phase two would involve working on regulating fees for all universities, he said.

Nzimande called for calm while the ministry continues with its engagement. 

Read more on:    blade nzimande  |  johannesburg  |  education  |  feesmustfall

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