The rich must pay for education - Nzimande

2016-09-19 13:27
Blade Nzimande (Lisa Hnatowicz, Netwerk24)

Blade Nzimande (Lisa Hnatowicz, Netwerk24)

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Pretoria - Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande says the government cannot subsidise students from wealthy families for free tertiary education.

"It is very unclear to government why families who can afford private schools should, under the current circumstances, be receiving further state subsidies for their children at universities," Nzimande told reporters in Pretoria.

"To subsidise these students would require taking funding from the poor to support cheaper higher education for the wealthy, which is not justifiable in a context of inequality in our country. We cannot subsidise the child of a cleaner or unemployed person in the same way we subsidise the child of an advocate, doctor or investment banker."

Nzimande made the remarks during his announcement on fee increments for 2017. He said universities could determine their own fee increments, but they should not exceed 8%.

He said they had looked at the challenges at hand from all sides and concluded that the best approach would be to allow individual universities to determine the level of the increases that their institutions would require.

"With the caution that this has to also take into account affordability of students, and therefore has to be transparent, reasonable and related to inflation-linked adjustments, our recommendation is that the fee adjustments should not go above 8%."

Nzimande said he had consulted with various stakeholders regarding what would be best. He said to ensure that such inflation-linked fee adjustments of the 2015 fee baseline were affordable to financially needy students, government had committed to finding the resources to support them.

No increase for NSFAS students

He said that the government would assist households with an income of up to R600 000 per annum with subsidy funding to cover the gap between the 2015 fee and adjusted 2017 fee at their institution.

"This will be done for fee increments up to 8%. This will, in effect, mean that all NSFAS qualifying students, as well as the so-called 'missing middle' - that is, students whose families earn above the NSFAS threshold, but who are unable to support their children to access higher education - will experience no fee increase in 2017. Government will pay for the fee adjustment," he said.

Nzimande said while NSFAS would continue to provide loans and bursaries to poor students, the Department of Higher Education and Training and universities would continue to mobilise institutional and private sector financial support to enable affordable financial aid options for the "missing middle" students.

He said he had constituted the Ministerial Task Team on funding support for the poor and "missing middle" students, which is developing a model that would be tested in 2017 to provide affordable support to these students.

"We will continue to look for other ways of supporting financially needy students not covered by NSFAS, whilst a long-term solution is being developed to raise sufficient funding from the public sector, private sector and other sources to fund 'missing middle' students at universities and TVET colleges," he said. 

Read more on:    blade nzimande  |  pretoria  |  university fees

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