Nzimande holds more talks over 2017 varsity fees

Blade Nzimande. Picture: Lisa Hhnatowicz
Blade Nzimande. Picture: Lisa Hhnatowicz

The media briefing by Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande regarding university fees for 2017 has been postponed so he can “consult”. 

“Today’s scheduled announcement by the Minister of Higher Education and Training of his recommendations to university councils regarding possible fee increases for the 2017 academic year has been postponed to allow for more consultations,” spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said. 

“Minister Blade Nzimande received the report of the Council on Higher Education on fees in 2017 yesterday, and had hoped to make an announcement as early as today following consultation with a very wide range of stakeholders. 

“These discussions with the vice-chancellors’ body Universities South Africa, student representatives, the organisation of university council chairpersons, and civil society and political formations are however still ongoing.” 

Nzimande reportedly met with the South African Union of Students — a federation of student representative councils from 26 universities — today. 

Nkwanyana said Nzimande has decided to gather more views and suggestions before proceeding with any announcement. 

“Given the competing views on fee adjustments during this period in which the Heher Commission of Inquiry is still gathering evidence before making long term proposals, it was seen to be imperative that as broad a consensus as possible regarding 2017 is achieved,” said Nkwanyana. 

Meanwhile, News24’s Karabo Ngoepe reported on Wednesday that an increase in students at universities and the no fee increase policy have put pressure on universities to find ways to generate income. 

The higher education department’s director general Gwebs Qonde told the commission investigating the possibility of free tertiary education that “growth in student numbers without matching growth in subsidy funding has resulted in general underfunding of higher education, putting pressure on institutions to raise funds through fees and third stream income. 

“The net result is that university fees have become increasingly unaffordable to the working and lower middle classes.” 

The Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training was established in January to inquire into and make recommendations on the feasibility of fee-free higher education and training in South Africa. It began public hearings in Pretoria on Wednesday. – News24 

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