Nzimande thanks #FeesMustFall for highlighting 'missing middle'

2016-10-13 17:24
Blade Nzimande. Picture: Nelius Rademan

Blade Nzimande. Picture: Nelius Rademan

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Pretoria - Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande says he has the #FeesMustFall student movement to thank for highlighting the issue of the "missing middle".

Speaking at the commission of inquiry into fees on Thursday Nzimande said the missing middle should actually be categorised as poor students. 

"Some of the students we categorise as the missing middle they are poor students... maybe thanks to FeesMustFall for actually highlighting this issue and it's urgency."

Nzimande announced last month that university and college increases would be up to the institutions, but would be capped at 8%.

He also announced that students on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme would not bear the brunt of the increase, as it would be subsidised by the government.

They would also subsidise the increases for students who fell into the "missing middle", where households earned up to R600 000.

Following his announcement, protests flared up at tertiary institutions around the country, with students demanding free education 

Answering questions from the commission on Thursday on why the missing middle had been largely ignored by government, Nzimande said it was due to the demands of poor students, and government resources. 

"It had to do with the demand and what government saw as a priority. Government thought that we need to drastically expand access to the poor and also because of inadequate resources." 

He added that another challenge for government was the large number of poor students who qualified for NSFAS. He said government was also facing challenges in funding poor students. 

Nzimande said an unintended consequence for the 0% increase, which resulted in government paying for university fee increases, was that it took money "earmarked for Masters and PhD scholarships to actually produce the lectures that we need". 

Read more on:    blade nzimande  |  education  |  university fees

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