Fees Commission disappointed by lack of participation from banks, corporates

2016-11-23 20:40
(Jenna Etheridge, News24)

(Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Johannesburg - The Fees Commission on Wednesday expressed disappointment with the low level of participation by corporates, industry and the banking sector, it said in its interim report. 

"There has been regrettably little participation by the resource-rich entities such as corporates, industry, the banking sector or organised labour, all of which might have been expected to contribute as the production of graduates and an academically prepared workforce is to their direct benefit," it said in its report to President Jacob Zuma. 

The interim report was released by the presidency on Wednesday. 

The commission said a few students and student bodies were prepared to engage during its hearings. 

"The great majority have either declined to do so or, in some instances, conducted themselves in an aggressive and anarchic fashion towards the commission and its work."

This however, it said, did not result in any material disruption or delays.

3 of 8 guidelines completed

It received 200 written representations and has listened to more than 50 oral presentations from government departments, NGOs, individuals, private educational providers, universities and colleges, it said.

Three of the commission's eight set guidelines have been completed, it said. 

These included an overview by stakeholders of the commission's terms of reference, post-school education and training, funding of institutions as well as understanding their operational costs.

It said too many deserving candidates were being excluded by the lack of financial means.

"The state should without delay recognise and implement an obligation to fully fund the very poor," it recommended.

It said a minority view of participants was that the state was the principal beneficiary of the fruits of higher education and training and should, therefore, repay successful student National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) loans. 

Inadequate funding

It instead said it found that an important influence in favour of the obligation to repay was to self-sustain the funding process. 

"Ideally the loan obligation should be collected and enforced through the income tax authorities and not left to Nsfas which has proved inefficient and ineffective in this regard."

It found that Nsfas' allocations to institutions were inadequate to cover the number of students who qualified for its funding.

"This forces many institutions to cross-subsidise or top-slice by reducing the amount of funding across the board. Alternatively, this has resulted in an accumulation of historic debt at many institutions. The historic debt is part of the current fee crisis."

Until a substantial degree of self-funding has been achieved the state should provide bridging finance, it said. 

The presidency has given the commission until June 30, 2017, to finalise its report. 

Read more on:    university fees

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