Fee-free universities would reduce quality of tertiary education, says CEO

2016-04-13 06:08
(AFP)

(AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Video

WATCH: I'm a socialist, says Madonsela's daughter

2016-04-13 10:30

Wenzile Madonsela speaks at the Gordon Institute of Business Science.WATCH

Johannesburg - Making tertiary education free would reduce the quality of education and graduates, Allan Gray Orbis Foundation CEO, Anthony Farr, said on Tuesday.

"Ultimately if fees are free it has an impact of reducing the quantity that we need and ultimately, I would argue, it would reduce the quality," he said.

Farr was part of a panel discussing the Fees Must Fall movement at the Gordon Institute of Business Sciences in Johannesburg alongside University of Witwatersrand vice chancellor, Adam Habib, and University of Pretoria student and secretary general of the Economic Freedom Fighters' student command, Wenzile Madonsela.

Earlier, Habib said tertiary institutions were failing to produce the number of graduates the country and the economy needed to address inequality and poverty in society.

Habib said out of about 1.1 million Grade 1 learners who entered the education system, only about 30 000 ultimately graduated from a university, on time.

Ambitious NDP goals

This was, among other factors, because of the reduction in government subsidies which had caused the institutions to increase their tuition fees to a point where the working and middle classes felt they could not afford to attend university.

He suggested two ways of addressing the problem were either increasing taxes or making tertiary education free.

Farr disagreed with Habib. He said a free tertiary education system would not address the policy requirement outlined in the National Development Plan.

"The challenge with pure free education is that ultimately it cannot achieve the most significant policy requirements of this country.

"The NDP goals are incredibly ambitious and we are not even going to get close [to meeting them].

"We have to double the number of graduates from when it was released, we have to triple the number of PhDs and if you are only getting fees from taxes it is ultimately a limited pool [of funds]," he said.

'Wicked problem'

That would ultimately lead to fewer students than those the institution would have produced through other funding means, he argued.

Constrained resources would ultimately make them regressive, he said. There would also be more competition to fill the limited spaces those universities would have available, Farr said. 

"It's going to be more competitive for those limited places and ultimately those that have had better foundations, that are equipped, not the under-resourced, will be more competitive for those positions."

The issue of retaining students in universities was bigger than just about funding, because even the foundation itself, which currently had 750 students in its system, was having difficulties retaining its own recipients, he said.

"We talk about the wastage in the system and we talk about the 30 000 out of a million that start this journey and we think that there are simple solutions but there are not... This is a wicked problem, particularly given the history of our country, the foundations that we are building on."

He said the Fees Must Fall had been a catalyst, a good "wake up call" to the depth and the realities around issues of power, privilege and pain.

Read more on:    wenzile madonsela  |  adam habib  |  education  |  university fees

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.