We will find money for varsity fees shortfall - Radebe

2015-11-05 16:00
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PICS: Students injured at UJ campus protest

Students protesting against university fees at the University of Johannesburg have reportedly been assaulted by outsourced security workers on campus. View pics of the protest here.

Cape Town - There was still no clarity on how government and universities would cover the R2.3bn shortfall to make up for the suspension of fee hikes in 2016.

At a media briefing in Parliament, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said Cabinet welcomed President Jacob Zuma's decision to not increase fees.

Radebe said the Cabinet felt the zero percent increase would bring "monetary relief" to the poor.

He could, however, not say where the money to fund the shortfall would come from.

When asked, he said: "I am not the minister of finance. I can assure you the money will be found. This is government."

Students at campuses nationwide took up the #FeesMustFall campaign last month, protesting against proposed fee hikes for 2016.

While Zuma eventually conceded, sporadic protests have continued to break out at some universities, with students calling for fees to be scrapped altogether and for an end to outsourcing.

Some students have demanded that Deputy Education Minister Mduduzi Manana address them on the matter and have given government until Monday for feedback. They have threatened to stop the end-of-year exams should they be let down - saying Manana had previously stood them up.

Extra R19.7bn a year needed

In the meantime, Zuma has also announced a commission of inquiry into the transformation of higher education, with its terms of reference expected to be announced soon.

On Thursday, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa praised the students for highlighting the fees issue during a sitting of the National Council of Provinces.

Repeating earlier statements by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande that many options for funding the shortfall were being considered, such as a wealth tax, Ramaphosa added that banks had already been approached to see how they could help universities fund poor students.

He acknowledged that higher education subsidies had not kept pace with the increase in student numbers over the past 20 years.

Funding for university students through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) had grown from R578m in 2004/5 to R9.5bn in the 2015/16 budget.

In the National Assembly on Wednesday, Nzimande drew from a report presented by the director general of higher education and training, Gwebinkundla (Gwebs) Qonde, to the standing committee on appropriations.

The report said that an extra R19.7bn a year was needed for university subsidies. This excluded the NSFAS, with an annual increment for inflation and enrolment growth.

Another R37bn would be needed for the estimated 25.5% of enrolments that NSFAS would need to cover for 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Based on figures from universities, the shortfall in 2016 due to the no-fee increase was R2.33bn. This was made up of a tuition fee increment of R1.915bn and a residence fee increment of R415m.

Read more on:    blade nzimande  |  jeff radebe  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  cape town  |  university fees

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